Three relevant additive manufacturing (3D Printing for Production) technologies and how to enhance your designs to shorten product development times
When it comes to speed and cost effectiveness, little beats 3D printing for validating designs. However, optimising your designs for prototyping often means having to re-validate for production. How should designers bridge this gap?
Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) enables exceptional repeatability
The cost of additive manufacturing (AM) reduces daily. By eradicating the tooling component, production cycles are truncated and more cost effective. Roadblocks to considerations, such as certification, are becoming fewer – indeed, Carbon’s new EPX 86FR material has a V0 rating from UL. Specifying materials and part applications helps any service provider to understand your requirements and recommend the best solution. Wall thickness, accuracy, and part stability are major contributors towards cost and lead time. Designing for AM from the start removes any issues; and the earlier estimates are compared between AM and traditional methods, not just using cost, the better.
Printing with stereolithography (SLA) is a popular prototyping method. Technology and materials are improving all the time. The large-bed Stratasys NEO 800 printer has very high tolerances thanks to its laser process, claiming an accuracy to 0.1mm, even for parts over 300mm. When designing for this process that produces detailed prints with the look and feel of traditional thermoplastics, you need to factor in support structures for thin walls and understand that part stability is compromised if wall thickness is less than 0.2mm in the X/Y axis and 0.4mm in Z plane. A good service provider will advise whether your part will produce a perfect print first time, and work with you through any necessary changes before you go to print.
HP’s 3D printing for production process, Multi Jet Fusion (MJF), takes the next step in moving into production parts. This laser sintering technology has an accuracy of +/- 0.3% over 100m. The advantage here is that there are no support structures to consider and recommended optimum wall thickness is 0.4mm. Viable, end-use materials enable the production of moving, complex parts; and part consolidation of previous multiple part assemblies is a more cost-effective production process.