3D printing is a manufacturing process that builds by layers to create a three-dimensional solid object from a digital model. To print a 3-D object, the manufacturer uses a 3D computer-aided design (CAD) program to create a digital 3D File. During the print process; the 3-D printer starts at the bottom of the design and builds up successive layers of material until the object is finished. At Schmit Prototypes we provide a few cutting edge 3D-Printing Options: Polyjet, FDM, and Stereolithography (SLA) and each one has its own benefits.
Rapid Prototyping/3D Printing Applications:
- Proof of concept
- Visual models (working or static)
- Engineering models
- Anatomical models
- Short run production parts
- Oversized displays/props
Stereolithography (SLA), is the 3D printing process most commonly used by Schmit Prototypes to create master patterns for urethane casting. SLA parts can also easily be finished and painted to be used for visual models. SLA parts are usually built with a 0.004″ layer and build quickly on our two 3D Systems iPro 8000’s.
FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) is another 3D printing method offered by Schmit Prototypes. Our FDM machine can build with a 0.010″ or 0.013″ layer. FDM parts are built in ABS which has excellent strength and thermal properties.
3D printing on our Polyjet gives Schmit Prototypes the ability to print parts with extreme detail. Our Polyjet prints at an incredible 0.0006″ per layer.
At Schmit Prototypes our average delivery time for 3D printed parts is 1-3 days depending on part geometry, volume and level of finishing/painting.
Why Rapid Prototyping/3D printing?
- 3D Printing provides quick lead times.
- 3D Printing can decrease costly mistakes by detecting design flaws before the manufacturing process.
- 3D printing is a cost-effective option for low-volume production
The old saying, “first come first serve” can hold true in many scenarios, and it is clearly evident in the competitive marketplace we function in today. That’s why being the first one to market with a new product has proven to be a winning move, and its being done by utilizing cutting-edge rapid prototyping methods. A big buzz word in the ‘Rapid Prototyping World’ right now is 3D-Printing, if you haven’t heard of it by now, you’re living under a rock! The process isn’t exactly new, but the advancements in technology over the last 30 years have been substantial, and the forecast for the next 5-10 years looks to be nothing short of amazing. 3D-Printing has quickly evolved into the most commonly used form of prototyping for companies looking to push their new products to market, but it’s certainly not the ONLY.
In the shadow of 3D-Printing we’ve lost some sight of some tried and true methods that continue to give companies a competitive advantage in the manufacturing process, and probably the most overlooked and unknown is Urethane Casting.
- Urethane Casting & it’s benefits
- This process starts with a 3D Printed part to create a master pattern, the master is then encapsulated with silicone, once the silicone is parted into 2 halves and the master removed, the ‘soft tool’ is created. That ‘soft tool’ can now be used to create urethane parts; urethanes can be of nearly and durometer and mimic most injection molding materials. The casting process allows for difficult geometries due to the forgiveness of (silicone) soft tooling.
- The cost and creation time of a soft tool is significantly less when compared to a standard injection mold.
- The limitations companies experience with some lower-end 3D-Printers yield to the advantages of Urethane Casting in terms of material, size, & color.
- Small or Large cast parts can produced in one solid piece, as opposed to many
- One ‘soft tool’ can be used to produce the same part in numerous materials and in-office 3D-Printers that have small build platforms. colors.
In the ‘market-race’ keep in mind that time peels off the clock at the same rate for everyone, and the person who utilizes every tool possible to save time will often be a step ahead of the competition. Visit www.SchmitPrototypes.com to learn more about 3D Printing, Urethane Casting, and other great methods of Rapid Prototyping.
Schmit Prototypes just appeared on The Fox Business Network feature Manufacturing Marvels. Watch the entire segment that aired below!