It is important for the manufacturer to make an evaluation of the production cost before making the switch from a traditional manufacturing process to industrial 3D printing AKA Additive Manufacturing. For example, injection molding is a common technique that is effective in producing thousands of identical pieces. It can give a great output in a single session of the production cycle. In this scenario where mass production is required injection molding is effective. However, if you need to customize the products or produce different variations of the same product to meet the demand of end users. Then a process like 3D printing becomes more viable.
How To Plan And Design Before Going For Additive Manufacturing or 3D printing
There are three basic steps:
Creating the model
It is important for the designer to understand possibilities and limitations of designing for 3D printing or additive manufacturing. Design for additive Manufacturing (DfAM) enable designers to think beyond traditional inside the box design methods and assembly constraints. Additive Manufacturing (AM) has unique geometric, material, and customization benefits not provided by other production techniques.
What is Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) is the methodology of creating, optimizing, innovating, or adapting the form and function of a part, assembly, or product to take full advantage of the benefits of additive manufacturing processes. The result of this method are products that surpass the performance of their traditionally manufactured counterparts. You should keep in mind that every additive manufacturing process comes with its unique strengths and limitations.
There are 3 levels of knowledge for Design for Additive Manufacturing:
Beginner: The basic knowledge about the different printing technologies, their unique strengths, and limitations.
- This stage will answer the question; Is my model printable?
- Did I incorporate all the elements for success?
Intermediate: At this level the designer will start thinking of smart ways to enhance the form, functional performance of parts or assemblies by taking advantage of some unique capabilities of AM.
- This stage will answer the question: Can I enhance the look and function, reduce assembly errors by consolidation components?
Advanced: The designer at this level has mastered the different design concepts and the focus is taking the model from a conceptual level and scale it up for production.
- This stage answers the question: Is the model ready for production. Has it been optimized, and all elements of design are repeatable.
For industrial applications, it is important for the designer to choose the printing process that most represents the final product. The choice will depend on the product type and production quantities. Industrial processes such as SLS Selective Laser Sintering offer the following advantages over others:
- Materials used are thermoplastics like those used in conventional manufacturing.
- Complex geometries and assemblies can be built with this process.
- Functional materials that go through rigorous testing to establish the stresses it can endure. A vast majority of requirements such as chemical resistance, flame retardant, toughness, are predictable before hand and corresponds to the requirements of different applications when using EOS SLS tested materials.
- Certification is another important requirement for electrical devices, food applications and food contact safe materials. SLS offers a variety of materials that meet such requirements.
- Stability of the final product is important when using AM for end use products and functional prototypes. With EOS SLS materials, you can realize the target property profiles in the best possible way for your products.
- Selective Laser Sintering production parts are strong, heat resistant and repeatable. As a manufacturer we work with our customers engineers and designers to set up the parameters for their mechanical functional parts to ensure repeatability. This is done partly at the design level and during production using part specific parameters.
- SLS influences the manufacturing processes and help businesses perform to a higher level by adopting this new way of producing products or parts.
The Selective Laser Sintering is a powder based Additive Manufacturing process. This process can produce any intricate and three-dimensional geometrical parts by depositing powder in layer-by-layer fashion. The sintered material forms the parts while the un-sintered powders are brushed off. The cleaned surface is granular and can be treated by different methods to reduce its roughness:
Mechanically: Using Vibratory tumblers also called vibro-polishing or media tumbling, is a finishing process that smooths the surface of SLS 3D printed parts by placing them in a tumbler with a specific type of media for 12 hours and then polished with polishing media for 2-4 hours. The result is a satiny matte to semi-gloss finish. Depending on the layers thickness and part orientation the roughness is decreased 60-80% on average.
Chemically Vapor Finish: The vapour sticks to the part surface where it creates a controlled chemical melt. This chemical melt lowers the surface peaks and valleys by liquifying and redistributing material and makes the surface even. This process also enhances shine and surface texture. The smoothing effect is not limited to outside visible surfaces and features, it extends to internal channels and other negative features.
Aesthetic finishes: There are a number of finishes that can take place either directly on the printed parts or after one of the above applications.
- UV resistance
- Electrostatic Discharge ESD, RFI and EMI properties
Anubis 3D: 3D Printing Solutions Provider
Anubis 3D is proud to be a leading additive manufacturer-3D printing service provider. We specialize in rapid End of Arm Tooling (EOAT) and On-Demand industrial components. Our team has years of experience working with clients who operate in several industries. Thousands of parts have been manufactured in our facility according to customer specifications and are part of large assemblies or as standalone components. The durability of our materials has parts functional for years or withstand thousands of cycles. We will share our expertise and provide input before we manufacture your orders making sure they meet and exceed your expectations. No matter the complexity of your project, our team will be able to provide you with an innovative solution. Work with us on an upcoming project. Get in touch with our team to learn more about how we can help.