Additive manufacturing (AM) is a process by which a model is printed layer-by-layer. Objet’s industry leading printers are able to print any model 16-30 microns at a time. In the past, if a material was to be sculpted into a prototype, material was manually subtracted – a time consuming process. On top of this, if too much material was removed, the prototype had to be scrapped. Additive manufacturing does the opposite – it adds material – which saves wasted material, time and money.
How does the Additive Manufacturing process take place?
Using a CAD model (either from a 3D laser scan or from a software-generated model), Objet’s printers create a rapid prototype. Depending on materials and size, your 3D rapid prototype can be printed in as little as 15 minutes!
What are the different types of additive manufacturing?
Stereolithography (SLA): This additive manufacturing process, which is similar to the above polyjet matrix printing, uses a combination of a UV laser and resin to construct rapid 3D prototypes one layer at a time. With data from a CAD model, the laser scans and traces each cross section on the exterior of the liquid resin. After a laser heats the resin to a solid, it becomes fused with the layer beneath it. The building tray lowers so the process can repeat and your model can be built one layer at a time. After construction is complete, the prototype is immersed in a chemical bath that removes and excess resin. Finally, the product is cured in a UV oven to complete the process.
Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)
Like all other additive manufacturing technologies, FDM starts with an STL file from a CAD software. Two materials are dispensed from this rapid prototyping machine. One material is for support, while the other is for the model itself. A CAD file defines a path for melted thermoplastics to travel and the model is built up, layer-by-layer, which is eventually cooled into a solid. Although different materials cannot be combined in this form of rapid prototyping, different materials can be used.
FDM technology common uses:
Ramping up production, while waiting for tooling
One of a kind products
Limited/special edition products
Jigs and fixtures
Replacement part manufacturing
Horizontal build layers can be built in three options ranging from .007" to.013". The minimum wall thickness must exceed .020". Models made from ABS maintain tolerances of +/- .005" for the first inch, and +/- 0.002" for each additional inch. In the z height (vertical), there are standard tolerances of +/- 0.010" for the first inch, +/- 0.002” on every inch thereafter. The build size for a single piece is 10" x 10" x 12". This does not restrain you, however, because models that are larger than the build enclosure can be divided, printed as separate pieces and assembled.
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
A high powered laser is used in this additive manufacturing technique. Our technology allows the laser to fuse tiny metal, plastic, glass or ceramic particles into a 3D model. SLS machines also use CAD files to help produce the prototype, and selectively fusing powdered materials. This fusing is achieved by scanning cross-sections, which are also generated from CAD data. After each section has been scanned, the base of the machine is lowered, in order to apply the next layer. This additive manufacturing technique also permits a wide use of materials. A great selection of polymers (such as polystyrene, nylon, titanium, alloys and steel mixtures) are available for your unique rapid 3D prototype.
How does this help you?
When you have a completely accurate prototype, you are better able to reverse engineer any issues before you produce your final product. The ability to create a 3D ready to use prototype with specific properties opens many doors to new applications. Also, with additive manufacturing, you have the option of customizing each layer. During 3D post processing and reverse engineering processes, an alternate surface may replace the one in existence. In either case, the molecules of the new surface are going to be different than those of the rest of the object. You can smoothen, emboss, engrave, cut, adopt, alter, carve, infuse, shape, duplicate, add colour, animate, scratch, sculpturize and improve your 3D prototype to your exact specifications.