Rapid Prototyping: Prototypes in Days, Not Weeks!
Concept models (using rapid prototyping) help you communicate: spatial orientation, high definition detail, complex surfaces. Our 3d printing service builds your ABS parts in one piece from the bottom up, so your parts are not only strong, but they function the same as end-use parts without assembly. Our soluble support melts, away leaving complex designs intact. Our accurate parts provide you with a real alternative to costly tooling and manufacturing processes. You can build a few parts, or test models, in a fraction of the time.
How Does It Work?
The Design Stage:
This is an STL file. The 3-D drawing is then ‘sliced’ by custom software into horizontal layers .010″ thick. Support is automatically or custom generated based on the position and geometry of the part. Tool-paths are then created; path data is reviewed, changed if necessary and then downloaded to the FDM machine.
The Finished Prototype:
A temperature-controlled head extrudes ABS plastic or soluble support material, layer by layer. It draws the prototype one layer at a time, similar to how a hot glue gun extrudes melted beads of glue. The designed object emerges as a solid three-dimensional part without the need for tooling. The soluble support, which dissolves away in the cleaning machine, enables the object to have fine detail and working mechanisms molded into the prototype.
Direct Digital Manufacturing: Real Parts, Real Fast
- Concept modeling
- Form, fit and function
- Design verification
- Jigs and Fixtures
- Marketing tools and Packaging
- Production Mockups
- Replacement Parts
10 Rules for Making Great Parts:
- Make sure you have a 3D CAD part in solid and that all surfaces are complete.
- Make sure your walls are at least 0.02 thick.
- All surfaces will show the layers of the build and a light sanding with 320 grit papers would remove most lines.
- We usually print in white, black and gray colours. Other colours are available at a premium price.
- If the part does not need to be solid through and through, make the part hollow to use less material and less build time.
- When you are designing your part, remember that pockets and angled walls require added support which costs more time and money.
- Make sure there is enough material around your holes to sustain fasteners.
- Check that you have made your holes drill size so they can be tapped.
- Optimize your CAD data for the best settings for the STL file. This prevents flats on spherical surfaces. In Solidworks the deviation tolerance is 0.4 and Angle tolerance is 7.75. – Make an STL file.
- Parts can be sprayed with a sealer to assist in finishing and adding strength to the part.
Answers to Common Questions about Rapid Prototypes:
How smooth a surface can FDM provide?
Parts are built with a layer thickness of .006 but some stepping does occur. The parts can be sanded and filled to obtain a smoother finish. The orientation of the part in the chamber as it is being built can create a smoother or a stronger finished model depending on the function it is to perform.
Are your materials toxic?
Our rapid prototyping FDM machine uses ABS and ABS PLUS plastics that are not hazardous and are fully recyclable. There are no toxic chemicals used in the production of our models.
What adhesives can I use if I need to fix or join a part?
Super Glue or Hot Stuff -Special T works well to fix or join ABS PLUS parts. Hot Stuff is available at Lee Valley.
How large a part can I make?
You can build parts up to 10″x10″x12″ in one piece, but larger pieces can be made in sections and glued together with excellent accuracy.
What is the dimensional accuracy of these parts?
FDM models maintain an accuracy of ± 0.005 inches depending on the accuracy of the CAD file received.
What is an STL file?
The .STL file is the standard data transmission file used in Rapid Prototyping. It looks like a wire frame as it uses triangles to imitate the surfaces of a solid model.