Did you know....
Did you know....

Did you know that we have commercially available SLA printing in-house?  It’s worth mentioning as I have noticed one prominent 3D printing company in New Zealand stating on their web site they have “the only commercially available SLA machines”…  this is not true, we are SLA printing almost everyday right here in Tauranga NZ with a range of materials, offered for very competitive rates.  Below are a few examples:

SLA 3D printed product white

example of tough SLA resin print - cog

New SLA services and materials
New SLA services and materials

For sometime we have been offering an SLA printing service with white material, we have now added to our in-house capabilities with new SLA materials including Clear, Black, Gray,  Robust  semi-flexible and Cast-able resin for the investment casting industry.  (yeah, so just a few additions!)  Also these materials we have in-stock and ready to go.

SLA printing is great for pre-tooling prototypes or where a high level of detail is required.

Below are a few examples we printed lately:

SLA-3D-print-fine-detail

SLA Glass Filled housings

 

Turning plastic into metal
Turning plastic into metal

Recently we have got more involved with producing plastic parts that will be used for investment casting in various metal from Aluminium to Titanium.  You may ask why do this when metal parts can be 3D printed directly?  The answer is somewhat layered,  Metal 3D printing is just the best thing for some applications but not others and investment casting or sand casting from patterns offers another useful option.  Namely cost advantages for larger parts but also material choice.

Below is an example of an automotive inlet manifold we printed that was investment cast in aluminium, the cost is around half that of 3D printing in metal a part of this size:

3D-printed-investment-cast-manafiold

 

To help better understand the process and work with our casting partners better, we cast parts in-house to refine our printing technique for cast parts, below is a print and investment cast we made in-house:

If you are interested to have parts cast or you have a casting business we would like to hear from you.

Think big, print big
Think big, print big

What happens when customers ask us to make parts that are bigger than our printers are? We do it anyway.  There are some advantages in breaking up big parts into smaller pieces and joining them together, you may be surprised to know the main advantages are often speed and cost.

Take the below example of this 1/3rd scale International truck:

This part was about 200 hours of printing, if printed in one piece that is a long lead time! breaking it up onto 3 printers for example and running them 20 hours per day the print time is only about 3 1/2 days.  Also if one print has an issue it is not a big deal, but if after 190 hours a big single print has an issue that is a big problem.  Breaking the print up also means segments can be printed in the most advantageous orientations giving better quality and reducing print time further.

By the way this is a fully working truck made for Complete Site Works, pretty cool!

 

Yes we did actually print this:

 

Hope you found this post interesting.

Andrew Palmer
Director, Palmer Design & Manufacturing Ltd

FDM 3D printing - Real life cost and material advantages
FDM 3D printing - Real life cost and material advantages

Out of the main 3D printing methods FDM (Fused deposition modeling) is sometimes seen as the printing technology for the hobbyist.  (Endless prints of plastic rabbits and vases flooding the web don’t help this image!) The reality is however that all the different types of 3D printing have advantages and disadvantages and there is no perfect method yet.

FDM printing does offer some real cost advantages in many applications, also no other printing method can come close for material variety, with new materials literally coming out every other day. However not all printers can use these materials, for example low cost printers that don’t have heated chambers cannot print with polycarbonate and even ABS is a challenge for large parts. We are using heated chamber printers that allow us to use a large, useful variety of materials for the benefit of our customers.

Today I will share with you two different print jobs that we have recently completed, in the first example we have a batch of 100 components for an automated production line, the parts shown below are “shuttles” that will hold a product while automated operations are taking place on a moving conveyor:

 

Based on two of the lowest cost SLS printing providers, these parts would have been between $230-250 each, We provided these parts for $28 each!

So why did we provide these at such a low cost, why did we not just give a 20% discount for example?  The reason is that while there is talk of digital manufacturing the reality is most production is still limited due to pricing. The above application would probably not exist if we were to charge $28,000 for this batch of parts, but at $2,800 they are cheaper than any other method of manufacture, with no tooling cost or setup fee.  So we are really focusing our business at creating useful 3D prints that make economic sense.  We  worked closely with the customer to achieve these large cost benefits by optimizing the Design for FDM.

In our next example we provided Hayes International with a number of long-run roofing profiles according to their specifications. The bright colors you see are not available with SLS or SLA printing. there are many colors and textures available off the shelf and it is great to see a company like Hayes using 3D printing to provide their customers with physical examples before production tooling is needed. This is another example of an application where FDM shines.

3D printed long run roofing profiles

 

Special thanks to our customers for permission to share these pictures

Andrew Palmer
Director
Palmer Design & Manufacturing Ltd

Robust rubber like parts now available
Robust rubber like parts now available

3d Printed rubber part

Today we are going to look a a rubber like material we are offering for production of end-use parts and prototypes.  It’s is a type of Flexibel PolyEster (FPE) , the great advantage of this material is it’s robustness when compared to materials available from multi-jet printers where the tear strength is not great.  It is a real engineering material with good resistance to heat & water while you don’t find these properties in the multi-jet materials (Yet).

See below video for a demonstration of the material:

We had to overcome a number of issues to produce parts with this type of geometry, the main one being these materials tend to stick to everything very well, so removing support material was a big issue. We have overcome this by using a special support material in our twin nozzle printers,  we print these materials in our industrial heated chamber machines that results in a nice flat part.

Andrew Palmer
Director
Palmer Design & Manufacturing Ltd