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Archive for the ‘FDM Prototyping’ Category

3D Printing Fixtures and Jigs with FDM

Posted on: November 22nd, 2014 by The Technology House

Fixtures and Jigs are used to assemble, align, hold, and fit check parts during the various stages of the manufacturing process.  Fixtures and jigs are heavily relied on in order to help maintain the quality of the parts, and production efficiency.  Fixtures and jigs should not be overlooked, for they help make the manufacturing process run efficiently.

Fixtures and jigs printed in the Fuse Deposition Modeling (FDM) process can help avoid any halts in the manufacturing process.  FDM fixtures and jigs can be produced in days rather than weeks or months when compared to producing fixtures and jigs through traditional machining processes.

FDM fixtures and jigs can be printed in ABS, PC, or ULTEM material. The material can be tailored to your objective.  For example, if the part needs to withstand high heat, then the fixture/jig should be printed in ULTEM. Regardless of which material is used, all FDM materials are very durable, and can withstand most handling.

In addition, if there is the potential for several iterations, then one-off FDM’s will be more cost effective than one-off machined fixtures.

Benefits to FDM Fixtures and Jigs:
-Reduced cost
-Durable materials
-Reduced Lead time
-More complex designs can be created
-Revised fixtures can be easily produce


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A Material for Both Your Prototype and Production Needs.

Posted on: September 30th, 2014 by The Technology House

When one needs a material to build durable concept & show models, prototypes, tooling & fixtures, and low-volume production parts, then the resilient and high-performance Fused Deposition Material (FDM) material, ULTEM , is a good candidate.

The ULTEM material allows one to work more iteratively, test more thoroughly, and move confidently and efficiently from prototype to production.

ULTEM is a flame retardant high performance thermoplastic material. This FDM material is ideal for functional and end-use parts that require high strength-to-weight ratio and its FST (flame, smoke, and toxicity) rating. ULTEM widely used in the aerospace, defense and automotive industries.

ULTEM Manufacturing Properties

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Scale Model Helps Prove Proof of Concept

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

TimkenSteel, a global steel and bearing manufacturer, contacted us in need scaled model of a “Brick Manipulator”. This machine assists a worker with stacking bricks on shelves rather than the worker manually stacking the bricks, thus making the work load more efficient and safer.

Scale Model of Brick Manipulator

The 3d scale model needed to be sturdy and can be assembled and disassembled when transported. The model was scaled to 1:24-approximately 14″x16″x14″. The FDM process was chosen due to its strength as well as its ability to print in multiple colors. Parts were printed in both white and grey in order to highlight model features.

Scale Model of Brick Manipulator

When assembled, the end model would move and rotate like the life size model. This included rotation, bending, and even hydraulic lifts that went up and down. Metal pins were used to represent the bricks. The crane was designed to pick up the metal pins in order to give a good representation of how the bricks are transported.

Scale Model of Brick Manipulator

This project required an ample amount of open communication between the customer, the project manager, SLA technicians, and the operations department to ensure that each piece was done correctly to meet the customer’s needs.

Scale Model of Brick Manipulator - 4

Click here to learn how our 3D printing and additive manufacturing processes can improve your product.

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Keep Your Projects Running Day and Night

Posted on: December 19th, 2013 by The Technology House

Our Rapid Prototyping machines are automated, which allows us to build parts unattended. This is beneficial to you because machine efficiency is maximized in order to meet your tight deadlines as best as possible.  Parts can build at times when our office is closed, which includes nights, weekends, and even holidays.

Click here to see how our rapid prototype services can meet your needs.

Laser Rapid Prototyping

Additive Manufacturing-Which Process is Best for You?

Posted on: September 14th, 2013 by The Technology House

Additive manufacturing is a process that creates physical objects from digital models.  While traditional machining methods fabricate parts by cutting away at material, additive manufacturing builds the part up layer by layer.  Although the additive manufacturing process has been around since the 1980’s, there has been much excitement about it due to the numerous recent advancements in processes and materials. Companies are able to produce high-quality prototypes that come closer to the production piece.  For example, medical companies are exploring patient-customized implants that are fabricated through additive manufacturing.  But with the constant innovation, it can be difficult to stay informed on what will work best for you.  That is why we have compiled the following list to show how the different additive manufacturing processes can help you.

Stereolithography (SLA) Prototyping
SLA is available in numerous plastic materials (i.e. ABS-like, PC-like, PP-like, Water clear, and High heat) that simulate properties of actual plastics.  SLA is one of the most popular methods for initial prototypes because it is ideal for design review, and fit/function testing.  Accuracy and finish allow for SLA to be the best process for master pattern of urethane and metal castings.  In addition, SLA is favored for show models since it can be more easily sanded and painted compared to other methods.

SLA prototype golf ball

Click to see details about SLA Prototype Materials.

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
Like SLA, FDM is a popular method for additive manufacturing.  A major benefit to FDM is that the materials offer excellent thermal and mechanical properties.  FDM is ideal for more “under the hood” applications.  Unlike, SLA where one will get a similar material to the plastic; FDM offers the actual plastic (i.e. SLA offers an ABS-like material, while FDM offers an actual ABS material).  FDM is one of the most used processes for production additive manufacturing.

FDM prototype golf ball

Click to see details about FDM Prototype Materials.


Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
SLS builds rugged parts out of materials such as Nylon PA, Glass-Filled Nylon, or flame retardant Nylon. The parts can better withstand the wear and tear of functional testing.  They are a good choice for applications that require snap features, high heat, and chemical resistance. SLS is one of the most used processes for production additive manufacturing.

SLS prototype golf ball

Click to see details about SLS Prototype Materials.


Polyjet can fabricate parts in both shore A and shore D materials, as well as overmold parts.  It is a good alternative to urethanes when the timetable requires producing rubber-like parts within a few days.  Another benefit compared to urethane molding is that polyjet does not require any tooling.

Objet Prototype golf ball

Click to see Polyjet/Objet Prototype Materials.

Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)

DMLS produces metal parts by fusing metal powder layer by layer.  DMLS parts have mechanical properties equivalent to production materials such as steel, aluminum, and titanium.  They also have high detail resolution and excellent surface quality.  DMLS is ideal for small to medium sized parts that have highly complex geometry, as well as making direct tooling inserts.

DMLS prototype golf ball

Click to see Laser Sintering Materials.

Desktop 3D Printing

Desktop 3D printers are one of the most affordable additive manufacturing processes. Desktop 3D printing can fabricate plastic prototype pieces in a variety of colors. Parts fabricated from desktop 3D printers are ideal for design review. This process has been popular lately with individuals that want desktop and novelty parts.

Desktop 3D printed golf ball

It is easy to become inundated with the myriad of additive manufacturing news. But we hope this will help create a clear path on what will work best for you. This is an exciting time for our industry that will continue to see great advances in available processes and materials.

A Newer Twist in Additive Manufacturing

Posted on: April 24th, 2013 by The Technology House

No doubt about it, additive manufacturing is hot. Unlike subtractive processes, such as machining which make parts by removing material, additive processes build three-dimensional objects layer-by-layer from digital models. Solid objects can be “3D printed” to almost any shape. Over time, the technology’s range has expanded from mostly business-to-business to business-to-consumer. This has changed the face of industry, making many companies think differently about how they produce parts. Most companies used to associate “additive manufacturing” solely with “prototypes.”  Now, spurred by the rise of consumer resources such as MakerBot and MakerGear, firms are increasingly associating additive with “end parts.”

Although some firms are still stuck on using mill specs for production, it seems that in the last few years, more companies are thinking harder about when and how to use additive techniques. Stories such as the Navy using additive aboard ships to build replacement parts and NASA exploring the technology to create spare parts on spaceships crop up almost daily.

Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is the most common additive technique in industry because it prints parts using standard engineering thermoplastics — not the proprietary blends other techniques demand. Our company builds end parts using FDM, stereolithography (SLA) and selective laser sintering (SLS).

Additive manufacturing can be used to help in production in at least 2 popular ways. First, “3D printing” can be used to create fixtures. Currently, companies must design and machine-out fixtures from a metal or plastic material in order to make a production fixture. The FDM, and other additive processes, now allow companies to “print” fixtures and get the completed devices by the next day. The fixtures hold parts for assembly, painting or machining (for instance, post-op drilling.) Second, additive manufacturing can produce the end use part either for initial testing or for the actual production run. The medical-grade polycarbonate (PC-ISO) FDM material is popular in the medical device industry and Ultem is popular for many high-heat applications for the automotive and aerospace industries.

We see a lot of interest in additive techniques and feel that their use in industry will continue to grow.