Similarly, plastic injection molder Thogus Products Co. Inc. said that it has used 3D printing to make parts out of different kinds of thermoplastics, including acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and polycarbonates, as well as from metals. The company added that 3D printing enables it to consolidate multiple parts into one and, in some cases, eliminate assembly steps, cut costs, and save time.
Experts agreed, however, that production volume is still limited when compared to conventional techniques, such as injection molding. Whereas injection molding machines can spit out parts every minute or two, 3D printers can take hours to do a single part. Still, Stratasys pointed to the case of one manufacturer that builds 300 to 400 parts per week for use in aircraft gauges. “We tend to have the most traction in making custom or semi-custom parts, with production volumes of no more than 2,000 to 3,000 parts,” Jon Cobb, executive vice president for Stratasys, told us.
Manufacturers also emphasized that 3D-printed parts don’t emerge from the printers as finished products. Most require pre- and post-processing. Pre-processing includes CAD-level software changes enabling creation of files that can work reliably in 3D printers. Post-processing includes removal or dissolution of plastic supports built into the parts, as well as surface finishing, such as sanding. ”We need to get over the unrealistic expectation that the machine pops out a finished part,” said Dods of GE Energy.
Matt Hlavin, president of Thogus, said that design engineers also need to understand the limitations of the materials involved. “You can’t take a traditional part that was metal, such as a bracket or casting, and print it in plastic and expect it work the same way,” Hlavin told us. “It’s never going to be a one-to-one replacement.”
The most critical skill needed for 3D printing, however, is just good knowledge of manufacturing design, experts agreed. “With 3D printing, you can print virtually any geometry that you can design,” said Cobb of Stratsys. “But you have to have good design skills. And not everyone has that.”
Thanks for covering this summit conference, Chuck. It's especially valuable to see what end-users have to say. Aerospace is definitely one of the major areas where end-production volumes are ramping, especially with metal parts. And much--degree of post-processing, volumes, rates--depends on the 3D printing technology being used.
3D printers used for food and meal look more like machines rather than printers. They consist of syringes and in those syringes instead of filling the ink liquid edible raw material is being added like chocolate syrup, sugar syrup and so on . Later these materials are collected layer on top of layer to complete the final output . It is also use to print icing on the top of the pan cakes . In future all restaurants will be using these printers in order to make their lives easier.
Yes Habib I agree with you this technology of printing is just beyond ones imagination I have also across some articles saying that different meals and food items are being made by 3d printers. Just imagine the food you eat will be 3D printed isint it exciting from all these technologies we come to know that development is just going beyond our minds.
Recently i was reading an article about applications of 3D printer, and actually came across a startup "Natural Machines" that combines technology, art and food to create something unique. They actually printed an edible cheeseburger using 3D food printer. They printed the bean burger, cheese sauce and the roll using real food.
You can check their facebook page for further details.
The applications of 3D printers is really beyond one's imagination and would play a very key role in the rapid advancement of technology.
"the Stratasys executives made a point of letting journalists know that the popular conception of 3D printing is inconsistent with the realities of using it in manufacturing settings. As you point out, there are a lot of applications that don't lend themselves to 3D printing."
Charles, what I meant is about clarity. What can be print and not; rather than populating unpromising things.
Depending on the software you use to creat your CAD model, the pre-processing can be relatively simple. If you are using a solid modeling program like Solid Works or Pro/E, once you have created your model it is a simple "save as" command to create the .STL file. If not, you need to make sure the part you modeled is "solid". By that I mean all surfaces are connected so you have a solid cross section. Imagine if your design was hollow. If you were to "fill" all of the walls, there would be no openings or gaps that the water could drain out. There are programs out there that can check and do some repairs, but I'm not an expert on that. Once you have the .STL file, you import that into the machine's interface. Stratasys has a very easy to use program. Once you import your .STL file you can orient it and add it to the build. The software automatically generates the .CMB file the machine uses to build the part with. Once you have your build set, you click on the print button and you're off and running. The process, interface, and file creation has gotten significantly more user friendly over the last several years.
This is definitely not my strength, RogeMoon, so we'll see if we can get an expert can help us out here. But as I understand it, a lot of the pre-processing is on the model side. You need to create an STL (steroelithography) file and, from that, a CGM (computer graphics metafile) file after your CAD file. I'm told this is still a big area of learning for most engineers. There's also a matter of matching your design to your materials and to the right process beforehand -- whether it's fused depostion modeling, selective laser sintering, or another 3D printing method. I'll see if we can get someone from Stratasys to jump in here.
We use them for experimental molds for silicon rubber moding compound. It works just fine, but we don't care about the rough finish. We just coat it with mold release and inject the compound. Really fast way to prototype something.
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