About 2.5 years I saw a demonstration of a 3D printer on television and was “sold”. 6 months later I built my own 3D RepRap printer. I needed another 6 months to get it well adjusted, but this is fascinating.
I have now over 2 years of intensive experience in designing parts and machines in 3D Cad and building the prototype with 3D printed parts.
- Coil winding machine for small transformers and coils
- Mechanical construction for elevated wine cooling machine (still in prototyping/design phase)
As you might notice, I don’t design jewelry. Not my field. However I good at thinking about solutiosn for mechanical problems and if they are solvable using 3D prototyping. All designs are first made with a 3D CAD tool so that I know everything fits before the first part is made. Thus saving costs.
So to make some mechanical object I use the following methodolgy:
- sketch phase. In this phase I discuss with the customer directions/challenges and possibilties so that both parties have a relative clear understanding of what is possible and required.
- Design phase. This is where the actual design takes place in the CAD tool. Her the actual prototype is designed with all the individual parts. And it is here where the nice 3D pictures come from. When I am assembling the individual parts the CAD tool blocks any misfits (i.e. wrong dimensions etc). Again no parts are constructed yet. Suppose it does not fit.. loss of time and material.
- Build phase Her the individual parts are first constructed on my 3D printer. The biggest challenge is always where is the pressure going to com on the parts. That determines how the part needs to be printed. Do it right and you can build quite strong assemblies. Do it wrong and it will crack the moment any pressure is put on.
- Evaluation phase As with all prototypes there is always a possibility that although it was a good idea at the time, changes in design might be necessary. That is why it is a prototype. And as the material cost has been low thus far, changes can easily be made withouth significant cost increase.
- Preproduction phase Once the prototype is accepted by the customer it is possible that a more sturdy prototype is needed before the actual production. Alle components/parts are designed so they ar ready. There are also professional 3D printing machines that (thank God) use the same .STL files I use that can print strong components/parts. This is a growing market so the printing can be outsourced to them at a reasonable cost. Aluminum is even possible these days with laser Sintering techniques.
- Production Now that we have a working prototype, the real production can take place.
Advantages prototypes can be developed at reasonable low cost without the need for expensive engineering agencies. Within each step the customer knows what he is up against and has the decision to continue or not. We do the utmost to leave out surprises. this makes prototyping accessible for the greater public.
Disadvantages The accuracy of a low cost 3D printer is about 0.5mm on the horizontal plane and 0.2mm on the vertical plane. Even if the designes use accuracies of 0.001mm the printer has a extrution width 0.4mm but after squashing on the previsous layer this easily becomes 0.5mm. Laser Sintering for example does not have squashing thus the wdth of the laser determines the accuracy.
And if you are interested in discussing possibilites with us,
Send us a mail : firstname.lastname@example.org or call us here in the Netherlands (0623975258).