3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file.
The creation of a 3D printed object is achieved using additive processes. In an additive process an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the object is created. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object. 3D printing is the opposite of subtractive manufacturing which is cutting out / hollowing out a piece of metal or plastic with for instance a milling machine. 3D printing enables you to produce complex (functional) shapes using less material than traditional manufacturing methods.
Designing for 3D Printing, Important Factors to Keep in Mind
3D printing is a technology used mainly for prototyping and in some cases, depending on the final use of the printed part, as a manufacturing method (rapid manufacturing). Like in any design process, your design intent must be driven by the possibilities and limitations of the final manufacturing process of your model. 3D printing is not an exception; it offers a huge amount of new possibilities but also carries some limitations. Keep these suggestions in mind, as they will help you to design a successful prototype: Define clearly if you are going to print a prototype or a real part. It will be the starting point to determine what technology to choose to build your part. Establish priorities: what is the main objective of your part? General design concept, form / fit testing, marketing testing, mechanical resistance testing? Every rapid prototyping technology excels in one of these goals, but may fail in other. What external conditions (temperature, contact, abrasion, impact, chemical attack) is the part supposed to withstand? Read carefully the material specifications data sheet before printing your part or submitting it to a service bureau. How long is the part required to survive in a specific condition? You may not need an everlasting part. If it accomplishes its objective, it may be economically efficient to choose an entry level technology / material rather than an expensive performance grade one.
While it may no seem like it, 3D scanning has been around since the 1970’s and it has changed a lot from its inception. Using laser triangulation, 3D scanning devices capture a digital model of real-world objects. While 3D scanners used to be far more common for industrial usage, recent developments have widened the pool, allowing for low cost scanners to enter the market.
3D Printed Consumer Product Design - Reaching the Consumers Faster.
In today’s highly competitive environment, manufacturers need to have agility to adapt quickly to market changes. Feasibility of a product idea is time-sensitive. Conventional product design principles and techniques are unable to keep up with this pace. 3D printed consumer product design approach aims to empower manufacturers by enhancing collaboration, saving time in prototyping and thus reaching the market and the consumers faster. With the 3D printed consumer product design approach, the designers get a crucial feedback in the early design stages, making product development faster and efficient. 3D printing in product development process is ideal for rapid prototyping, functional testing, concept models, customized parts, and limited production runs to name a few. 3D printing solutions can empower manufacturers to achieve results quickly.
3D Printed Pattern Casting - Shaping the way forward.
Most industrial manufacturers are aware of the tedious and time-consuming nature of pattern casting in the production cycle. Apart from this, pattern casting is labour-intensive and subject to higher tolerance variations. New-age 3D printed pattern casting can help solve these production challenges. Sand casting patterns can be 3D printed easily with PolyJet or FDM Technology. 3D printed pattern casting can be used in foundries or in-house, depending on your production requirement. 3D printing also offers savings in labour, cost, and time, faster product development and can act as a tool for low-volume production.