Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Five 3D Printing Tips to Save You Time

3D printing is known to be a fast alternative to most traditional manufacturing processes, and you can harness the possibilities of this groundbreaking industry by taking some easy steps. Get to market quickly with these five tips to save you time when ordering 3D printed parts.

1. Export Your CAD file as a STL
In order for a 3D printer to build a part, the CAD file has to be exported into a STL file. A STL file is made up of triangles forming the surface of the part, causing faceting of the 3D model. Depending on the parameters set up, the faceting of the 3D model will differ. Common parameters that affect faceting of STL files include chord height, deviation, angle tolerance and poly count. It’s imperative to prepare your files for the export with this in mind to ensure quality expectations and design intentions are maintained from CAD to final part production.

There are a number of ways to optimize and prepare your CAD data to guarantee ­files are ready for processing and production. There are adjustments you can make to complex geometry data, such as wall thicknesses, or even small changes to ­file size and features that will help create a pristine STL fi­le and accelerate processing.

You can learn more about the details of how to prepare STL files in our whitepaper and tutorial.

2. Look at Design Guidelines
A common misconception about 3D printing is that the process is similar or the same across different machines and technologies. The reality is that 3D printing involves a variety of technologies with unique design considerations. Objective3D Direct Manufacturing offers a suite of 3D printing services including PolyJet, Laser Sintering (LS), Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) and Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS).

If you’re looking to utilize a specific technology, you can speed up your production process significantly by considering the limitations or unique requirements of that technology and how to adapt your file or design accordingly.

For example, most 3D printing processes require the design of supports for any overhangs in a 3D model, but Laser Sintering does not because of the nature of its build style. Other factors that may change from technology to technology include resolution, build orientation, wall thickness and part size.

Objective3D Direct Manufacturing has detailed design guidelines and other helpful information regarding design considerations:

3. Know Your Post-Processing Options
When you think about your piece, what do you envision? Does the piece have a smooth surface? Will the size of your part require multiple builds and assembly? If the component is a prototype, does it need cosmetic finishing or can it retain its natural finish? Will the layer lines of the 3D printing process affect the function of your final part?

Our expert finishing department can produce beautiful cosmetic and functional finishes with a variety of options. Some functional finishes include media blasting, tumbling, bonding, sealing and sanding; some cosmetic finishes include painting, clear coating, dying, vapor polishing, electroplating and texturising.

Oftentimes desired cosmetics can be accomplished more quickly and cheaply by choosing an alternative than the obvious. For example, if you need a part to be blue, you could have the part dyed instead of painted to save on time and money.

By understanding the options available and the time involved in fulfilling the desired finishing, you can significantly speed up the post-build process and get your product to market faster.

Learn more about available finishing options here.

4. Consider Your Material Needs
It’s typically a swift decision when choosing the category of material you’re considering for your product (plastic or metal, opaque or transparent, flexible or rigid), but many can be bogged down by the complexity of considerations when choosing specific materials based on benefits and the specific data related to it. We’ve broken down all of our materials in easy to understand tables on our website with detailed data sheets for each offered material.

For example, you may be considering a production-grade thermoplastic, but need the material to withstand high-temperatures with the ability to be sterilized for medical applications. You start with the technology on the material’s page, and then choose which 3D printing process you are utilizing. That page organizes each available material with a description and the relevant data. Each material’s detailed datasheet is also linked under each offering.

If you’re not sure which technology would be best for your application, you can start in RapidQuote with our Material Wizard. By clicking the Material Wizard tab on the right side of the screen, you’ll be able to filter materials based on a variety of key characteristics, including mechanical or thermal requirements. By clicking the three processes at the top of the selections, you’ll see which materials are available with each technology. Then, you can click through results to see detailed information about each material.

5. Talk to an Expert
The best way to speed up the 3D printing process, especially if you have no experience with the technology, is to speak with the engineers at Objective3D Direct Manufacturing. With more than 12 years in the industry, we are well equipped and knowledgeable about the 3D printing solutions that can help bring your envisioned product to life.

You can speak with our highly-qualified Project Engineers as you uncover the right technology for your product, or do some research on your own by visiting our website. General and nuanced information about the world of 3D printing can be found in our resources and case studies section of our website.

If you’re interested in learning about how 3D printing can be better incorporated into your business, our Professional Services offer in-person evaluations and recommendations. Professional Services looks at your entire operation and pinpoints opportunities to integrate 3D printing and provides all of the resources necessary to do so. Starting with expert onsite services, Professional Services prepares a comprehensive operations analysis after observing current operations and speaking with individuals from c-suite executives to manufacturing floor workers.

Don’t let the complexity of this revolutionary industry slow down your project goals. By following these five simple tips, you’ll be well on your way to rapid, quality 3D printed parts.

If you would like to build a 3D Part and need a quote, please contact us at 03-0785 2333 (AUS) or 09 801 0380 (NZ) or email us at parts@objective3d.com.au Alternatively, you may upload your files and get a quote on our online system here.

About Objective3D Direct Manufacturing
Objective3D Direct Manufacturing is certified ISO 9001:2008 compliant and is powered by Stratasys Direct Manufacturing with 16 commercial grade machines providing the widest range of 3D printing technologies and materials to enable a broad range of specialist solutions. With more than 1500 orders received and over 100,000 parts produced annually, Objective3D Direct Manufacturing is helping companies in diverse industries create extraordinary new products at every phase of the production process.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Taking Your Product to the Finishing Line

Additive manufacturing can make materials come to life in a single print. Fresh off the machine, a 3D printed part can look like a nearly finished product. Depending on your requirements, the natural surface finish of an additive manufactured part may or may not meet your needs. When cosmetics, specific surface roughness, or functional coatings are needed, Objective3D Direct Manufacturing’s expert finishing department rises to the occasion. With skilled professionals working to deliver your project goals, we offer a variety of options, hand sanding, Sealing, tumbling, micro-welded inserts, vapor polishing, dying, electroplating and lot's more.

In the examples below, you’ll be able to see how technology, material and product life cycle stage all contribute to the various options we can provide to get your product to the finish line.

Finishes for Every Product Stage
EMD Millipore Corporation utilized finishing services from prototype to production parts when manufacturing the Millipore Muse™ Cell Analyzer. Looking to use the functional Muse prototypes for market research and feedback before tooling and injection molding, Stereolithography (SL) models were printed that mimicked the look of the finished product.

The SL pieces were sanded to ensure an even surface and provide the desired surface smoothness for the application. After, they were primed and painted to match Millipore’s color and texture specifications. Finally, the models were assembled and decals were applied.

Once Millipore approved the finished SL prototype models, secondary SL parts were built as master patterns for urethane castings.  A cast-in texture was then applied onto the master patterns per Millipore’s mold-tech specifications. Texturizing and detailing the master patterns expedites the process and enables a uniform look across multiple cast pieces. Color specifications were taken from Millipore and color matched the urethane parts and assembled the pieces.

Comfortable and Decorative Prototypes
Finishing can be utilized in the prototype stage for cosmetic presentation and functional testing.

Pillar Product Design LLC designed an advanced hand tool for the urban gardener that provided maximum performance and ergonomic comfort. A prototype was developed using Laser Sintering (LS) technology with Aluminum Filled Nylon 12 to emulate the billet forged Aluminum used in the final product. Hoping to present the prototype as close to the final product as possible at a low cost, Pillar requested the finishing department remove all traces of build lines on the product.

The part was smoothed by sanding and given a cosmetic clear top coat for a clean surface. Since the product was ultimately going to feature a soft touch TPU grip for easy handling, our finishing department also applied a rubberized soft touch black paint. The paint not only provides a more comfortable grip when testing the product, but gives the illusion of the final product’s feel and comfort. The rubberized black paint is a fast and cost-effective alternative to over molding or bonding a grip onto the part.

Assembling a Functional Form
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company was seeking a more efficient satellite design, when they approached our partner, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing in the US, to prepare form, fit and function simulators for the satellite’s fuel tanks. Although Lockheed Martin owns additive manufacturing machines, the size and post process requirements of the prototype posed a challenge.

The Stratasys Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology was introduced for the tank simulators and offering an array of functional finishing options available for the project. The prototype was built in 16 sections and hot air welded together. Hot air welding melts a filament of the same material to fill seams, allowing pieces to be brought together without adding foreign material. Because of the weight and rounded shape of the tank pieces, we built customized fixtures to hold the sections while welding the parts together.

After fusing, the surfaces and seams were sanded to provide a uniform surface finish. Additionally, we offered an integral fuel tank (IFT) coating which protects materials against corrosion from fuel contaminants.

Applying Aesthetics and Smoothing Functionality
These examples highlight a few of the finishing options we offer to our customers. Other functional finishes include:
  • Media blasting for a fast alternative to sanding that creates matte finishes
  • Tumbling durable materials, such as metals and polycarbonate, in vibratory units with ceramic, plastic and synthetic media to smooth surfaces
  • Bonding sections together with either two-part epoxy or cyanoacrylate
  • Sealing products that need to be water-resistant or airtight
Additional cosmetic finishes include:
  • Dying parts color matched to your specifications
  • Vapor polishing FDM ABS and PC/ABS materials by melting the outer surface with a solvent
  • Electroplating with EMI/RFI shielding, which can block electromagnetic and radio frequency interference
  • Clear coating to add water resistance and desired sheen
  • Achieving Final Products with Additive Manufacturing

As you choose the materials and technology to manufacture your product, we can provide guidance on which finishing options can help you realize your product objectives. From providing aesthetically pleasing finishes to achieving necessary durability, our finishing services are at the ready to enhance your 3D printed part.

Interested in what finish is right for your project? Talk to us at 03-0785 2333 (AUS) or 09 801 0380 (NZ) or email us at parts@objective3d.com.au

If you would like to build a 3D Part and need a quote, pls. click here

About Objective3D Direct Manufacturing
Objective3D Direct Manufacturing is certified ISO 9001:2008 compliant and is powered by Stratasys Direct Manufacturing with 16 commercial grade machines providing the widest range of 3D printing technologies and materials to enable a broad range of specialist solutions. With more than 1500 orders received and over 100,000 parts produced annually, Objective3D Direct Manufacturing is helping companies in diverse industries create extraordinary new products at every phase of the production process.