3D Printing

3D Printing can help companies in many ways. You can print a prototype part and test it before sending the CAD file to have an injection mold made for mass production.

Perhaps having a mold made is too expensive for making small scale production parts. You can print parts out of strong thermoplastics for end use applications and have them ready to use in a matter of days.

Our Printer:

Our  Fortus 450mc 3D Printer has a build capacity of 14 by 16 inches. We can print a variety of FDM plastics including ABS, Polycarbonate, Nylon, and Ultem. Take a look at our materials page to learn more.

Our printer prints with soluble support material, allowing us to print moving parts incorporated into the part with no assembly required. Take a look at our videos page to see how the Fortus does this.

 

Our companies own applications:

3D Printing has helped our company prototype some of our own parts with ease and saved us quite a bit of money.  For thirty years we had cast aluminum handles made for our survey meters.  It took a lot of time machining and painting them. With the price of aluminum high these days, it became cost ineffective to produce the handles. We decided that injection molding nylon handles would be the way to go.

We had our new handle designed in a CAD program and then had the handle printed for testing. We found that the design was too weak and had it reinforced. We sent the final file to the mold company and they machined a mold for our final part below.

To date, we have not had a handle break and the cost per handle is a quarter of what the aluminum ones were. 3D printing allowed us to see how functional our part was before having an expensive mold made. The last thing you want to do is spend thousands of dollars only to find out that your part doesn’t perform the way you want it to.

In another application we were able to bring a product completely in house that we had manufactured for us by a machine shop. This product is called a pancake probe and we had it machined out of aluminum. Machining is an expensive process and aluminum is an expensive metal. One again, it was not cost effective. We re-designed it in CAD and now we 3D print it as an end use part for a fraction of what the aluminum probe cost. 3D Printing allows the shape of the part to be more complicated than it would be using injection molding.

3D printing also allows us to design threads into the part. Now the back plate of the probe and be hand screwed on, instead of using screws to attach the plate.