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Archive for July, 2014

Don’t Make a “Ruff” Prototype

Posted on: July 31st, 2014 by The Technology House

When one wants a 3D printed part to be as accurate as possible, then it is important to save the .stl file for the build in a fine or high resolution.  This will help eliminate any facets being built in the part.  It will also yield a smoother and more dimensionally accurate part.

Low resolution 3D design

This file shown above is not saved in a high resolution, so the facets will be visible when the part is printed.

High resolution 3D design

This file is saved at a higher resolution, so when printed its surface finish will be smoother than the previous file.

When saving your file as an .stl, one should review the parameters like chord height, deviation, and angle tolerance.  These parameters will help determine how smooth your file will be.

Printing parts that are saved at a fine resolution will not only allow for more cosmetically pleasing parts, but the parts will also fit better when assembled.  For example, holes will be smooth and round.

As accurate as a 3D printed dog could be, it will never be the same as having man’s best friend by your side.  Meet my puppy, Captain Boots:

Captain Boots

 

Click here to learn what 3D printing capabilities and finishes meet your needs.

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DeBunking 3D Printing Myths, Part II

Posted on: July 25th, 2014 by The Technology House

Last week we discussed about 3D printing applications, and 3D design. Your file is ready to print-GREAT! But now you may be wondering:

What should you expect from the build? How long will you have to wait until you have parts? And the question that almost everyone wonders-How much will it cost?

We will help answers these questions by correcting the following 3D printing myths.

3D Printing Will Replace Traditional Manufacturing Processes
Designing and creating a product takes multiple stages.  3D printing helps with the design and initial stages, but one can rarely fabricate an entire and completed product through 3D printing alone.  Currently, 3D printing is primarily used for prototyping.  Products may require materials or components that cannot be 3D printed.  For larger quantities, economics of scale may not be best for 3D printing.  Traditional manufacturing processes can produce a larger quantity of parts with a shorter cycle time.  Finally, tolerances of processes like CNC machining or injection molding are tighter than 3D printing.  If certain features are more critical than others, processes like CNC machining can be calibrated to focus on those features whereas 3D printing cannot.

 

3D Printing is Cheap
3D printing is one of the most economical ways to build parts, but not all parts are equal in price.  Part size and finish are major factors that determine cost.  Cubic volume and height determine the price of a part.   With that said, the part will cost more the larger it is.  Machine resolution will as factor into the price.  Finer resolution parts will take longer to build, thus adding more cost.  For example, a part building at .004″ layers will take approximately 20% longer to build than a part building at .005″ layers.  Finally, if a part needs a higher quality finish, then that will also increase the price.  This is because the finishing and painting is primarily done by hand, which at times, can be rather time consuming.

 

3D Printing is Fast
3D printing does fabricate parts quickly, but not at the snap of your fingers.  Most 3D printing processes can generate parts within a couple of days, but the timing is dependent upon the process and part geometry.  Parts that are large in size, and have a large cubic volume will take longer to build.  The run time will be longer because more material is required and the printer needs to build more layers, which increases the run time.

In conclusion, this article is not to be negative on 3D printing. But rather, we want to set the record straight on some common misconceptions we have heard. 3D printing is extremely beneficial to the product development cycle, and helps stream line various product development stages. The technology has made leaps and bounds from where it started 30 years ago. The future of 3D printing remains very positive, with advancements in both materials and processes constantly occurring.

Click here to learn what 3D printing process will work best for your project.

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Debunking 3D Printing Myths

Posted on: July 18th, 2014 by The Technology House

 

3D printing has been receiving a lot of attention by the media and press in the past couple of years. This has been great for our industry, as it is well deserved for the technology. Yet, at times, the attention can be over zealous, and some general facts stated may not be completely true or reported properly.

This blog is the first of a two part series to better educate you the reader, and correct some of the 3D printing misconceptions. Our intent is that we can better educate you so that you know what to look for when 3D printing parts. It is easy for someone new to 3D printing to get inundated with the technology. Our hope is that this blog series will be a guide to help you down the 3D printing path.

 

3D Printing Applications are Infinite
3D printing does allow one to fabricate more complex parts than through traditional manufacturing processes. But one is still limited on aspects like the materials, and tolerances of the machines. Although there have been great advances in material capabilities, part accuracy, and part application, 3D printed parts in certain applications are not useful as parts fabricated in other traditional manufacturing processes (i.e. CNC machining, injection molding, cast urethane, etc.). It is important to tailor the 3D printing process and material to the application of the part.

3D Printing Design is Easy
One cannot simply take a design program and with a few clicks of their mouse create a part. Designers have to consider the end use of the product, constraints of the materials and processes. One must also be aware of the interaction of the mating parts and the assembly of the product.

All CAD files are ready to be 3D Printed
Most 3D printers require a file to be in an stl format, and fortunately most design programs allow one to save the design in the stl format. At times the design program may not properly convert the file to the stl format. It is important for one to be aware that the file converts properly to an stl. In addition, a file should be saved at a high resolution.  This will help ensure that the 3D printed part is not faceted.

 

Next week, we will discuss more on 3D printing vs. traditional manufacturing processes, 3D printing cost, and 3D printing timing.

We hope this first of two series has been informative. Feel free to contact us so that we can be a valuable resource for your needs.

Click here to learn more about our 3D printing capabilities.

 

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What Will Help Advance 3D Printing?

Posted on: July 8th, 2014 by The Technology House

Last month we attended the Rapid Exposition and Conference in Detroit, MI. A majority of the people we met and spoke to had specific projects in mind that required 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing. Whereas people at last year’s show were mainly there to understand and learn about the concept of 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing. People are now moving from learning about the machines and materials to moving towards fully utilizing their capabilities.

 

A major requirement we heard from people at this year’s show is that they need a material that would act as close to the end production material. Rather than focus on the least expensive material or process, people need parts fabricated from processes like SLA, FDM, SLS, or DMLS that allow one to conduct “under the hood” testing. Fit and function testing can be better utilized from the materials of these processes. Of course other features are also important (i.e. price, part finish, tolerances, etc.) but material selection is one of the major keys in acceptance and innovation in 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing.

Click here to learn what material and process can improve your product.

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