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Archive for 2015

Top 5 for 2015: We Posted Them, You Read Them

Posted on: December 29th, 2015 by The Technology House

As 2015 comes to an end, it is time for us to review what blog posts were most read in 2015.  The topics of these blogs ranged from 3D printed parts being used in a Formula One racing car to the benefits companies are seeing by doing production in the U.S.

Afraid you missed out on the more interesting posts?  No worries, below are the top 5 blogs in one place for you to riffle through.

 

5. SAE Racing Team Incorporates 3D Printing in Car Design

4. How Did Being an Early Adopter of 3D Printing Help Us?

3. What FDM Part Density is Best for You?

2. 5 Benefits of Reshoring Manufacturing

1. What’s the Difference Between Soft and Hard Tooling?

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Can 3D Printing Show Realistic Details?

Posted on: December 14th, 2015 by The Technology House

One request we consistently hear is “How can you make my prototypes in color?”  or “How realistic can you make my parts look?” Previously most colors would be applied in paint as a secondary operation, or colors would be represented through photo renderings.

But now, TTH can 3D print parts in full color through  Color Jet 3D printing (CJP) . Realistic color models can be printed and delivered within days.  CJP through us will present your model in realistic colors.  The visualization of CJP will help you  gain attention and awareness in your model.

But don’t take our word for it, see for yourself:

Detailed 3D Printed models

Details in 3D printed model

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SAE Racing Team Incorporates 3D Printing in Car Design

Posted on: November 30th, 2015 by The Technology House

This year, we are once again sponsoring the University of Akron’s SAE racing team.  We work with their team to 3D print and manufacture various parts that are used in the car.  We recently spoke with them to talk about this year’s plans and objectives.

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Who is the team composed of?
Our team is composed of multiple tiers of members in a clever layout that allows for a system of checks and balances to ensure the quality of our design. In summary, this layout consists of two team captains who oversee both administrative and technical responsibilities. Beneath the team captains are our subsystem leaders, who oversee the design and production of different subsystems on the car, such as engine and suspension. Finally, we have general support, which is normally composed of newer members on the team. The general support members will help with all aspects of design and production of the car.

 

How many races do you plan to compete in this year?
Our team traditionally participates in multiple competitions around the world. Historically, this will include at least one competition in America, one in Canada, and one in Europe. This year, we plan on visiting Lincoln, Nebraska for our American competition, which will be followed by a competition in Germany. We also plan to end the season by going to Canada to participate in the Toronto Shootout.

 

What are your plans for this year’s car?
This year we plan to focus on improving the robustness of our design and looking into more advanced simulation/testing techniques to validate our designs before the ideas go into the production stage. This is an area where 3D printing can prove to be very useful with its rapid prototyping abilities. By improving our simulation/testing techniques we will be able to build a lighter car without sacrificing reliability.

 

How do you incorporate 3D printing in your design?
3D printing plays various roles in the design/production of our race car every year. 3D printed parts can serve roles that range from just testing fit and finish before actual production of the parts which involves lengthy machining processes, or they can even be finalized parts that will make their way on to the car.

 

What are the benefits you see by using 3D printing rather than traditional manufacturing methods?
One of the most useful attributes of 3D printing is that it allows us to produce complex geometries that would be next to impossible to machine from billet material. Some examples of these complex geometries include hollow parts, sharp corners, and small radii. By taking advantage of the benefits offered by 3D printing for production, we are able to build a lighter car without sacrificing our reliability.

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Stay tuned, for we will write a follow up blog in May once their car is complete.  We wish them the best of luck, and look forward to working with them this year.  To learn more about their team, feel free to visit  their website.

What’s the Benefit of Metal-to-Plastic Conversion? Part II

Posted on: November 12th, 2015 by The Technology House

As the old saying goes, “It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks”-Like converting metal parts to plastic.

We discussed in our last blog, when done properly, parts converted from metal-to-plastic benefit from:

-Cost reduction
-Improve functionality
-Design Freedom

But what industries benefit from metal-to-plastic part conversion? Three of the major industries we have helped are the automotive, aerospace, and medical industries.

The automotive and aerospace industries are converting parts to plastic in order to reduce vehicle weight, and to meet tougher federal emissions standards. The reason for the latter is that certain plastics are chemically and heat resistant.  These plastics can be utilized in the fuel and fluid handling systems.

A major reason we have seen the medical industry utilize metal-to-plastic conversion is for device ergonomics. Plastic products can be easier, such as molding a handle that is hard plastic, but the grip area is a soft rubber.  Another reason for metal-to-plastic conversion is that plastic has a lower thermal conductivity.  Therefore, plastic parts may not be cold to the touch, which allows the patient to be more comfortable when the product is in use.

We have helped a lot of customers over various industries with metal-to-plastic conversion. Contact us to consult with our team about the feasibility of converting your metal products to plastic.

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What’s the Benefit of Metal-to-Plastic Conversion? Part I

Posted on: November 5th, 2015 by The Technology House

We have encountered a lot of customers that have been more active over the past few years of converting existing metal parts to plastic parts. With the proper design, plastic parts can be just as strong as metal parts.  There are three major benefits on why this conversion is done: cut costs, improve functionality, and design freedom.

Metal and Plastic 3D Printed Parts

Cut Costs
Metal parts are primarily manufactured through CNC machining. But there are more options to produce plastic parts. Excluding CNC machining, the more common manufacturing methods for plastic parts are 3D printing, cast urethane, and injection molding.

A major benefit of 3D printing is that you can print parts in batches, thus allowing you to benefit from economies of scale.

Once the upfront tooling cost is amortized, cast urethane and injection molding allows you to mold parts in a matter of minutes rather than hours with CNC machining.

Finally, plastic production processes like 3D printing, cast urethane, and injection molding allow you to mold all the features at once.

Improve Functionality
Certain plastics can have more chemical resistance with exceptional heat resistance. This allows for plastic parts to be ideal for applications like fuel and fluid handling systems. Some plastics are also engineered to be thermally and electrically conductive. Finally plastic parts can reduce the product weight.

Design Freedom
Being able to produce parts in plastic allows you to create parts with more complexity, as well as combining different parts to be built as one.  Processes that produce plastic parts, like 3D printing, cast urethane, and injection molding, allow you to create parts with undercuts, threads, thin walls, and tight tolerances that may not be possible through metal manufacturing processes.

In addition, the ability to mold in features, such as ribs, will give plastic parts strength, yet allow the parts to be lighter than metal.

This is the first of two blog regarding metal-to-plastic conversion. In the blog, we will discuss which industries and applications have most benefited from metal-to-plastic conversion.

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How Did Being an Early Adopter of 3D Printing Help Us?

Posted on: October 26th, 2015 by The Technology House

Nearly 20 years ago we started with 3 guys and 1 3D printing machine.

Curious on where we are now, and where we think the 3D printing industry is headed?

Read one of the latest articles in Crain’s to find out.

3D Printing

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What is the Difference Between High and Normal SLA Resolution?

Posted on: October 19th, 2015 by The Technology House

We are often asked what options one has in SLA resolution. The answer is simple, normal resolution and high resolution. And deciding which option is best for you is simple as well. Normal resolution prints parts at .005” layers, and high resolution prints parts at .002” layers.

Here is a part that we printed in both normal and high resolution.  The part was printed in the same material as well as had the same finish done in post processing.

Side-by-side comparison of Normal and High SLA Resolution

Can you tell the difference?  Take a closer look to see which is which.

Side-by-side comparison of Normal and High SLA Resolution
The part on the left was printed in high resolution, while the part on the right was printed in normal resolution.  As you can see, the details on the left part are more defined than the details on the right part.

Side-by-side comparison of Normal and High SLA Resolution

The left file was the part printed in normal resolution, while the part on the right was printed in high resolution.  The build lines are less visible, and the details are more noticeable on the high resolution part.

After seeing these parts, you may be asking yourself the following questions:

How do I decide which resolution is best for me?
Normal resolution is a good all around use resolution. Customers who need parts for basic form, fit, and function print their parts in normal resolution.  Customers with designs of intricate details, require tight fitting to mating parts, or require tight tolerances print parts in high resolution

Is there a cost difference?
Generally speaking, high resolution parts cost twice as much as normal resolution parts.   This is because build times for high resolution parts are typically twice as long since as normal resolution since parts are being printed at .002” instead of .005”

How large are the build platforms?
We print normal resolution parts on 20”x20”x20” platforms, and our high resolution parts print on 5”x5”x11” platforms. But we are not confined to these dimensions, larger parts can always be printed in sections and then bonded in post processing.

Knowing this information will help take the guessing out of deciding which resolution is best for your parts. This will potentially save you from wasting money and resources on prototypes that do not work for your needs. If you have further question on the difference between the resolutions, then do not hesitate to contact us.

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5 Urethane Design Tips

Posted on: October 13th, 2015 by The Technology House

When using cast urethane, it is important to ensure that your part is designed properly. If not, then the part may not mold properly, thus jeopardizing your part functionality and lead time. But do you know what some of the major design pitfalls are? Or what the major guidelines are you should follow?

Here are 5 simple design guidelines for you to follow.

Wall Thickness
The minimum wall thickness for cast urethane is .040-.050”.  Most parts on average have a wall thickness ranging from .080”-.160”.

Draft
Although it is more critical for injection molding, draft is not as a big of a concern for cast urethane.  At least one degree of draft is ideal for cast urethane, certain parts can be molded without draft.  Although, if your  intention is to injection mold the part, then design the part as intended for production.

Radaii
Use at least a  0.125” radius in corners in order to increase part strength and help material flow in the mold.  In addition, use at least a  .060” radii in the corners of bosses.  This will reduce wall thickness, yet still retain the part strength.

Lettering & Logos
Cast urethane can mold both raised and recessed lettering.  Regardless of which one you choose, make sure that the lettering and logo is at least .040” thick and raised/recessed at this same measurement.

Tolerance & Accuracy
Part tolerances for cast urethane are +/-.010” for the first inch, and +/-.005” for every inch afterwards.

By following these guide lines, you will be able to have your parts casted with better accuracy and less scrap.  Thus allowing you to get your product to the market faster.  Have an upcoming project?  Feel free to contact us to see how we can help you.  Don’t have an upcoming project?  No worries, feel free to gander at our other resources like our handbooks and photo libraries.

 

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When it’s Best to Choose Urethane Molding

Posted on: September 29th, 2015 by The Technology House

Urethane molding is used mainly for prototype, bridge, and lower volume production runs. The process by which urethane—or, polyurethane—molding is done is similar to other types of manufacturing such as injection molding. The big differences come in the overall cost and cycle time as urethane molding is a type of soft tooling manufacturing method rather than hard tooling.

How Are Urethane Parts Molded?

Creating cast urethane parts is a simple three step process. The first step is to create a master from the 3D printing process stereolithography, also known as SLA. The 3D printed master is then used to create a silicone mold. The silicone mold is then used to cast the urethane parts. This manufacturing process bears with it a lower cost and fast turnaround time than steel molds you would typically use with injection molding.

What Are the Benefits of Cast Urethane?

For those unfamiliar with urethane molding, there is sometimes a question of why. Why would I go this route when I could just do injection molding and be ready for a fully ramped up production style manufacturing? Well, there are a few reasons for choosing urethane molding over other methods.

  • Fast tooling turnaround—silicone molds can be produced and ready to shoot parts within days.
  • Material versatility—You are able to test out different materials in a silicone mold without sacrificing part geometry due to shrink
  • Applications— Urethane can be used during most aspects of the product development process.

How Can I Use Cast Urethane Parts?

Urethane molding is ideal for creating functional prototype parts, engineering verification of designs, alpha and beta builds, as well as pre-production and low volume production parts. The cost and speed of this manufacturing and prototyping method is what often appeals to manufacturers. Allowing a fast turnaround can bridge the gap when production is ramped up and deadlines are closing in quickly, but it allows provides for a faster to market strategy, especially in highly competitive fields.

If you’re interested in learning more about how polyurethane cane help your business, feel free to contact one of our project managers today.

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Durometer. Do you know what it is?

Posted on: September 16th, 2015 by The Technology House

Durometer describes the instrument used to measure hardness, as well as the material’s hardness. Durometer is measured by the depth of an indentation into the material under a standardized force. Softer material will allow a deeper indentation, while harder materials will allow the opposite.

Common scales used today in casting are Shore A and Shore D. Shore A materials are rubbers, while shore D materials are plastics. Durometers range in scales of 10 with acceptable tolerance of plus or minus 5 points. For example a shore 60 A material will have a lower acceptable limit of 55 A, and a higher acceptable limit of 65 A.

Durometer Hardness Scale

What does this mean for you? It is important to understand the look and feel of the various durometers so that you can determine which material is best for your application. In addition to having different feels, the materials will have different properties (i.e. shrink rates, demold time, gel time, etc.) that need to be considered before molding.

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