Manufacturing Processes

MANUFACTURING

Find out more about our manufacturing processes below

OUR PROCESSES

FDM

SLA

Multijet

Vacuum Casting

FDM

Fused Deposition Modelling

ABS

A general engineering plastic widely used in industry. This is our most common 3D printing material.  

As it can be joined with solvent there is no limit to the effective parts size. i.e. part can be much bigger than the printer build capacity.

  • End Use
  • Temperature Resistance: 80deg
  • Low Creep
  • Good mix of strength and flexibility
  • Outdoor Safe – Medium term, painted long term
  • Large Colour Range
  • Waterproofing Possible
  • Economic
  • Not Food grade plastic

PC

Polycarbonate a strong and robust material that we would normally recommend if higher strength or heat resistance is required than ABS can provide.   

  • End Use
  • Temperature Resistance: 110deg C
  • Low Creep
  • High Stiffness
  • Outdoor Safe
  • Solvent joining not posible
  • Not food grade plastic

PLA

PLA is mostly used by our customers for the Metal casting industry that is for “lost wax” or “investment casting”

PLA is long term biodegradable, made form corn starch.  This makes it ideal for burning out cleanly when used for investment casting.

 

  • High Stiffness
  • Low Creep
  • Large Colour Range
  • Economic
  • Temperature Resistance: 35deg
  • Not recommended for end use parts
  • Not outdoor Safe
  • Failure mode: Brittle

PETG

Attributes:

PET is a useful material if you are looking for high volume production runs of  relatively simple or large parts, it can be more economic than ABS in this case but it depends on geometry.

The material is quite robust, for example coke bottles are made from PET

  • End Use
  • Temperature Resistance: 55deg
  • Low Creep
  • Outdoor Safe for medium term use
  • Large Colour Range
  • Economic for large production runs with simple geometry
  • Waterproofing Not Possible
  • Solvent joining not posible
  • PETG material is food safe however FDM is porous, so not recommended for food safe applications

ESD – ABS

Electrostatic Discharge Safe (ESD) Materials are semi-conductive, these materials are used especially in electronics manufacturing for jigs and fixtures.   Our ESD ABS is a high grade material that gives the correct resistance for Electrostatic dissipation.

Use ESD – ABS for water based conformal coating, See our ESD – PET material for Solvent based coatings

  • Water based coating compatable
  • High Stiffness
  • End Use
  • Low Creep
  • Temperature Resistance: 80deg
  • Not Solvent based Conformal coating compatible
  • Colour Range – only Black
  • Not food grade plastic

ESD – PET

Electrostatic Discharge Safe (ESD) Materials are semi-conductive, these materials are used especially in electronics manufacturing for jigs and fixtures.   Our ESD PET is a high grade material that gives the correct resistance for Electrostatic dissipation.

Use ESD – PET for Solvent based conformal coating, See our ESD – ABS material for water based coatings

  • Solvent based coating compatible
  • End Use
  • Low Creep
  • Temperature Resistance: 50deg
  • Colour Range – only Black
  • Not food safe

Rubber

Our FDM rubber materials are very robust and range in hardness from 35 to 45 Shore D.

We have a range of colours, Red, White, Black and semi clear.

  • End Use
  • Temperature Resistance: 80deg
  • Low Creep
  • Outdoor Safe – Medium term
  • Not food grade rubber

Raw Finish

Without any finishing process, layer lines are visible on FDM prints. However they can be made less visible at higher print resolutions. Standard resolution is 0.25mm layer height (Z) with a 0.4mm nozzle (X-Y).

Spray Painting

Painting is best used for final prototypes when a specific pantone colour is necessary to visualise the end product. Although it is a labour intensive process, it is possible to achieve near injection moulded surface quality on a strong industrial FDM print.

Solvent Sealing

For ABS parts only. Solvent can be used to seal the outer surface of a part, closing up any gaps and making it watertight. Solvent can also be used to fuse two parts, this allows for very large parts to be manufactured- beyond the bounds of our printers bed size.

Thickness

Feature Thickness:
In the vertical (z) direction, features should be kept above
0.5mm thick, but ideally above 1mm. horizontally features should be thicker than 1mm or they will not print.

Wall Thickness:
Wall thicknesses should ideally be 1mm, 2mm, 3mm, etc. (rather than 1.5mm, 2.5mm, 3.5mm etc.). These thicknesses are most efficient for our nozzle sizes.  

Orientation

The orientation of the part being printed effects both the surface finish, resolution, and strength of different features of your part. 
Parts are prone to breaking along layer lines, however, our industrial heated chamber printers ensure that inter-layer bonding is much stronger than desktop FDM printers.

If you want your part to be strong in a certain direction and are unsure how to orientate it, just pop a comment on your object describing the application and we’ll orientate it for you.

Overhang

Overhanging features of your part require support when printing. The printer will create a break-away structure underneath, which is later removed. Sometimes where the support touches the part, the surface finish is affected.

When designing a part for FDM printing, use overhang angles of 45 degrees and above where possible to reduce the necessary support. Your parts will be cheaper, look cleaner, and print faster. 

Clearance

For moving parts, threads, and other joints we recommend 0.2mm clearance so that parts fit and slide together.

For press fits, size for size works well in most applications, otherwise a light sand often fixes any issues. 

SLA

Stereolithography

ABS-Like

This grey material is flexible and strong behaving like ABS, good for snap joints and parts requiring a combination of robustness and flex

  • Temperature Resistance: 50deg

Polyprop-Like

This resin mimics polypropylene- often useful for prototyping bottles and more flexible components, for example living hinges.

This material is also very tough and hard to break.

  • Flexible
  • Temperature Resistance: 40deg
  • Colour Range – only semi transparent
  • Not food safe

Glass Filled

This is our strongest SLA resin, with high stiffness and amazing toughness- it is difficult to break by hand.

This is a very useful material when you need tough! 

  • High Stiffness
  • Low Creep
  • Temperature Resistance: 55deg
  • Not food safe

General purpose SLA resin

This is our most economic material, it comes in three colours: black, white, and semi-transparent. The clear when polished, becomes almost glass-like.  This material is similar to acrylic and will be suitable for many prototyping applications, it is however more brittle than our ABS like and glass filled material

  • Medium Stiffness
  • Temperature Resistance: 80deg
  • 3 colours
  • Economic
  • Not food safe
  • Can be brittle

High Temp

This resin holds it’s shape in high temperature environments, perfect for small test jigs and fixtures or even mold tooling for small runs.  With an incredible temperature resistance for an SLA material.

 

  • High Stiffness
  • Temperature Resistance: 200deg
  • Low Creep
  • Colour Range – only semi transparent
  • Brittle

Bead Blasting

Bead blasting SLA parts removes any visible layer lines, giving the part a matte finish

Raw Finish

Our standard SLA finish is bead blasted, so there is no reason to keep the raw surface finish.
However, it is useful to see the fine layers as a comparison to other printing processes.   

Painted

SLA parts can be painted with any pantone colour of your choice. This not only improves your parts visually, but also increases their lifetime as the paint blocks UV light from turning the plastic brittle over time.  

Thickness

Feature/Wall Thickness:
Features and walls should be kept above
0.5mm thick. They can be made thinner, however, due to the brittle nature of SLA resins, they will be prone to snapping.

Clearance

It is not recommended to use SLA materials together as moving parts as the material binds to itself easily. However with a clearance of 0.2mm or greater and some grease, parts do move well enough for demonstration purposes. 

Multijet

Multijet (or Polyjet) Printing

Polyprop-Like

Stratasys RGD450 is design to simulate polypropylene, with good flexibility, even living hings can be produced.   

Due to low friction  this is a great material for threaded parts, valves etc…

  • Temperature Resistance: 40deg
  • good flexibility
  • End Use
  • Low Creep
  • Outdoor Safe
  • Large Colour Range

Matte

Ployjet materials can be printed within a layer of wax-like support which leaves the surface with a matte finish when washed away.

Glossy

When a polyjet part is printed without the support material (apart from areas that need support), the surface finish appears glossy. 

Thickness

Feature/Wall Thickness:
In any direction (x, y, z) features should be kept above
0.5mm thick, below that the walls occasionally don’t appear in the print. Even if they do appear, the clean up process can be rough and thin features may break.

Orientation

Polyjet parts are homogenous, so the orientation doesn’t affect strength like it does for FDM parts. However it does affect print time and cost.

The print head sweeps back and forth depositing a whole layer of plastic each sweep, so flat and wide is faster than tall and skinny. Our quoting software optimises your part orientation for the lowest cost. 

Clearance

Polyjet materials are naturally slippery, making this process a great choice for fitment testing.

It is still recommended to give threaded or moving parts 0.2mm clearance for best results. 

Vacuum Casting

Two-part Resin Casting                        

Polyurethane

The vacuum casting we offer for rigid parts always starts with a polyurethane base. Usually it’s mixed with additives to change it’s properties, however it is possible to use plain polyurethane which gives a translucent finish as seen on the left.

The great surface finish and strength makes vacuum casting a perfect choice for final prototypes, prior to injection moulding.

  • High Stiffness
  • End Use
  • Low Creep
  • Outdoor Safe
  • Large Colour Range
  • Waterproof
  • Temperature Resistance: 80deg
  • Failure Mode: Brittle
  • Economic

ABS Urethane

ABS urethane is end-use, and behaves very similarly to real ABS with the exception of a slightly lower temperature resistance.

  • High Stiffness
  • End Use
  • Low Creep
  • Outdoor Safe
  • Large Colour Range
  • Waterproof
  • Temperature Resistance: 60deg
  • Failure Mode: Brittle
  • Economic

Polycarb Urethane

Polycarbonate urethane is end-use, and is stiffer than ABS urethane which makes it a great choice for parts that need physical testing prior to moulding.

  • High Stiffness
  • End Use
  • Low Creep
  • Outdoor Safe
  • Large Colour Range
  • Waterproof
  • Temperature Resistance: 80deg
  • Failure Mode: Brittle
  • Economic

Acrylic Urethane

Acrylic urethane is end-use, and can be made transparent or semi-transparent with added dye. One prime example would be a lens cover as shown to the left.

  • High Stiffness
  • End Use
  • Low Creep
  • Outdoor Safe
  • Large Colour Range
  • Waterproof
  • Temperature Resistance: 80deg
  • Failure Mode: Brittle
  • Economic

Nylon Glass Filled Urethane

This is our strongest vacuum cast material, very high stiffness and the same surface finish as any other vacuum cast urethane.

This has been used for physical testing to validate parts before moulding in real glass filled nylon.

  • High Stiffness
  • End Use
  • Low Creep
  • Outdoor Safe
  • Large Colour Range
  • Waterproof
  • Temperature Resistance: 80deg
  • Failure Mode: Brittle
  • Economic

Silicone

We frequently cast silicone parts for custom seals and gaskets, but there is a wide variety of hardnesses available. Anything from the softness of a jelly baby right through to the hardness of a car tyre, all able to withstand 200degC or more.

The level of detail matches that of an injection moulded part.

  • High Stiffness
  • End Use
  • Low Creep
  • Outdoor Safe
  • Large Colour Range
  • Waterproof
  • Temperature Resistance: 200deg
  • Failure Mode: Brittle
  • Economic

Raw

Vacuum Casting gives a naturally smooth, matte surface finish on every type of polyurethane we offer.

Polished

A polished surface is necessary when parts need to be transparent, but also possible for opaque parts that need a gloss appearance.   

Elecrto-plating

Vacuum cast parts have a smooth finish and can easily be electroplated with chrome or various other metals.

Thickness

Feature Thickness:
In the vertical (z) direction, features should be kept above
0.5mm thick or they risk being snapped during the moulding process.

Wall Thickness:
Wall thicknesses should ideally be 1mm or greater for to ensure your parts don’t get damaged during shipment.  

Draft Angle

Drafted surfaces aren’t a necessity for vacuum casting, however they are crucial for injection moulding which is a common next step. 
Often drafted surfaces are tricky to implement into a model after it’s finished. So if you intend to go into production and eventually injection mould your product, we recommend considering drafting from the start! 

Radius

Again, this is optional for vacuum casting, but recommended if proceeding to injection moulding.

Corner radii allow plastic to flow through your mould better and are fairly easy to imlpement after a CAD model is finished.

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