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Archive for December, 2014

3D Printed Trophies

Posted on: December 29th, 2014 by The Technology House

After 16 exciting (or grueling depending on who you ask) weeks, our 2014 Fantasy Football League has come to an end.  The winners of our league received these coveted 3D printed trophies.

3D printed trophies

We personalized the trophies by designing in the winners’ names on each one.

The parts were 3D printed in the SLA process in an ABS-like material. This material was used due to its accuracy and surface finish.  The parts were printed over the Christmas holiday.  While we were enjoying time with our loved ones, the parts were running unattended on our SLA machines.

Afterwards, the second place trophy was painted silver, and the first place trophy was painted gold.

3D Printed Trophies

It took about a week to print, finish, and paint these trophies. Show models like these are one of the many benefits of 3D printing.

In addition, we have now published a 3D printing handbook on our website. This handbook is an all encompassing guide on 3D printing, and is available for download here.

Request a Quote for your 3D printing project

CNC Machining vs DMLS. Which One is Best for You?

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

The recent advancements in Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) have made it easier to print parts in metal.  Parts can be printed in as little as a few days.  Regardless of these advancements, DMLS will not replace CNC Machining.

Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)  is a 3D printing/additive manufacturing technology that produces metal prototype and production parts.  DMLS prints metal parts by sintering various metal and alloy particles together. Whereas CNC machining is the automation on machine tools that cuts away at a piece of material to produce a part.

DMLS is an additive manufacturing process because it is “adding” material to build a part, while CNC machining is a subtractive manufacturing process because it is “subtracting” material in order to produce a part. But how do you know which process is best for your part?

Here are 4 quick points that will help you decide between CNC machining vs DMLS.

Surface Finish As shown on this initial picture below, the surface finish on CNC parts is typically much smoother compared to DMLS.

Finish on CNC machined part

The DMLS process involves fusing powered metal together. As a result of this fabrication process, the surface finish on DMLS tends to be porous as shown below.

Porous DMLS finish

Part Geometry & Design Innovation
Due to the parameters of CNC machining, all features on exotic or complex geometry parts may not be machined.  Features like cavities or undercuts may not be able to be machined in traditional CNC machining.  Since the DMLS process sinters powered metal together layer by layer, a lot of complex features can now be produced.

Set-up and Fixture Cost
Some CNC parts may require additional charges for setups and fixtures.  DMLS does not require any additional setup or fixture charges.  DMLS machines run completely unattended, regardless of how complicated the part is.

Prototype vs Production Parts
For one-off prototypes, or very small volumes, DMLS parts can be more economical than CNC machining.  DMLS can be a good bridge between initial prototyping and large volume production. CNC machining better utilizes economies of scale once in higher production.

Segment of a hip replacement fabricated through DMLS

This image is part of a hip replacement-fabricated through DMLS.  This component connects the hip bone and the femur.  These are produced as individual parts, and can be custom-made to the patient.  Because of this, DMLS is the more applicable process. One process is not superior to the other, but rather both have their benefits pending on the objectives of the part.  Both processes can complement each other in order to move the part efficiently through the product development cycle. Request a Quote for your DMLS project

What is the difference between 3D Printing, Additive Manufacturing, and Rapid Prototyping?

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

Although the technology is about 30 years old, 3D Printing, has been well documented and defined during the past couple of years. We are frequently asked by people new to the industry if there is any difference in terminology between 3D printing, additive manufacturing, and rapid prototyping.

Between the terms 3D printing and additive manufacturing, there is no difference. 3D printing and additive manufacturing are synonyms for the same process. Both terms reference the process of building parts by joining material layer by layer from a CAD file.  This is as opposed to a traditional manufacturing process, like CNC Machining, where a part is built by subtracting material from a block of material. 3D printing and additive manufacturing can be used regardless if the parts are fabricated in plastic, metal, or rubber.

3d printing vs additive manufacturing

Based off our general perception, it seems as though people who work in an industrial or manufacturing setting prefer additive manufacturing since it sounds more formal. In comparison, the media and hobbyists prefer the term 3D printing. The term 3D printing has been used more ever since inexpensive desktop printers became more popular.

The term rapid prototyping is different from 3D printing/additive manufacturing. Rapid prototyping is the technique of fabricating a prototype model from a CAD file. In other words, 3D printing/additive manufacturing is the process, and rapid prototyping is the end result. Rapid prototyping is one of many applications under the 3D printing/additive manufacturing umbrella.

Request a Quote for your 3D printing, additive manufacturing, or rapid prototyping project.