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ap813D printing seems to fascinate everyone who hears about it. Here are our top ten reasons why 3D printing is so great.

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Printing working mechanisms

Incredibly 3D printing is capable of printing fully working mechanisms in one single print with no post production assembly required.

Mechanisms such as ball bearings, chains, even entire gearboxes can be printed in one go.

The reason for this is the layer-by-layer method of manufacture method that 3D printers use. The CAD model of the mechanism is printed out on the machine. For where there will be air gaps between moving parts, a support material is printed. Once the model is completed, it is removed from the machine, and the support material is simply removed or dissolved, leaving a perfect working mechanism.

This means that there is no post manufacture fabrication, no join lines, and no moulds. If you were to use traditional processes, multiple moulds would have to be made, followed by labour intensive assembly processes, costing both time and money.

The best part about this feature is the cost – because the unit is printed out on one piece it makes NO difference to the cost NO MATTER HOW COMPLICATED the job!

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Why is no moulding good?

The 3D printing process requires no moulds due to its layer by layer method of manufacture, this has three major advantages over traditional methods of manufacture such as Injection moulding:

1) Time: Time is saved in two ways; Firstly, set up time: due to the complexity of modern moulds, it often takes weeks to prepare one, in this time nothing can be can be done to edit your model.

Secondly, post manufacture fabrication time: because even the most complex of models can be printed in one piece, there is no requirement for any putting together of the product once the support material has been removed.

2) Cost: Moulds are very costly to produce, even simple small moulds can cost thousands to produce. If you are developing a product it is likely that you will have more than one test model before manufacture, meaning a new mould every time.

3) Complexity: When a product is moulded, the mould has to be able to be removed once it has been cast. This limits the complexity of the design. In 3D printing, the complexity is almost limitless, meaning that ‘impossible shapes’ or mechanisms can be printed in one go.

4) Join Lines: Because there is no post fabrication required, there is no need for a join line on the product.

What does this mean for mass production?

All this amazing information does not, however, mean that 3D printing is a substitute for current mass production methods (yet). Once moulds have been created for products, it then becomes far cheaper and quicker to produce them via the traditional methods as materials and print speeds of 3D printers are still too expensive and slow to meet the demands of the global markets. They do however open the market to the mass customisation movement, where it is now very affordable to design your own one off or low volume products and get them made. It also makes the design process for products much faster and results in better products due to the reduced lead times and costs in producing prototypes. Designers can get products to market in half the time with five times the fit form and function testing.

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Fast Turnaround

Due to the lack in requirement of moulds in the process, lead times on products are only as long as the time it take to print them. A small item could be printed in a couple of hours, and shipped out the same day. Traditional methods of manufacture would mean that ‘one off’s’ would take weeks if not months to produce, and at a far greater cost.

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Cost per volume

One of the most exciting properties of 3D printing is that cost of manufacture is solely based on the volume of material used. This doesn’t sound very impressive until it is explained properly!

Because volume is the only factor, this means that COST REMAINS INDEPENDENT TO COMPLEXITY. In fact it is highly likely that the more complex an object, the cheaper it will be to 3D print as there is likely to be more voids/air gaps in a complex object than a simple one.

The importance of scaling

Volume has a cubic expansion rate, i.e. when you double the length of one axis, you have to double the other two axes. This means that if you increase the sides by a factor of one, you increase the volume by a factor of eight!

For example, take a simple cube which has equal sides of 1cm:

Volume = 1cm x 1cm x 1cm = 1cm ³

If you now increase the sides to 2cm you get:

Volume = 2cm x 2cm x 2cm = 8cm ³

A whopping eight times bigger, which means that the cost of your model has also increased by 800% !

This sounds like an extreme reaction, but as Einstein said every reaction has an equal and opposite reaction!

i.e. If you reduce the length of the sides of your product but half, you reduce the manufacture cost by eight! Even if you reduce the size by 25%, the model will be nearly 60% cheaper to make!

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In Laymen’s terms, if a model that is one foot high costs THB 200, the same model that is only nine inches high (25% reduced volume) will cost THB 100 (nearly 60% cheaper), and one that is only six inches will only cost THB 25 See below:

scaling_down

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Adding material rather than removing it

The term Additive Manufacture means that materials are added layer by layer to make the final product, rather than traditional manufacture methods of Subtractive Manufacture, where a block of material has matter removed to produce the product. Other than a small amount of support material, there is very little wastage when a product is printed, and in some processes the support material is reusable.

3D printing is generally a made to order process, so there is no need for storage units for the products, so no buildings for storage means no energy usage.

There is also very little need to outsource the manufacturing to the Far East as material and machine costs are relatively similar globally. This means that there is no need for trans global movement of the products as they are likely to be made more locally than before.

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impossible_shapes

Print shapes that have previously been impossible to make

Incredibly 3D printing is capable of printing fully working mechanisms in one single print with no post production assembly required.

Mechanisms such as ball bearings, chains, even entire gearboxes can be printed in one go.

The reason for this is the layer-by-layer method of manufacture method that 3D printers use. The CAD model of the mechanism is printed out on the machine. For where here there will be air gaps between moving parts, a support material is printed. Once the model is completed, it is removed from the machine, and the support material is simply removed or dissolved, leaving a perfect working mechanism.

This means that there is no post manufacture fabrication, no join lines, and no moulds. If you were to use traditional processes, multiple moulds would have to be made, followed by labour intensive assembly processes, costing both time and money.

The best part about this feature is the cost – because the unit is printed out on one piece it makes NO difference to the cost NO MATTER HOW COMPLICATED the job!

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accuracy

Thinner than a third of a human hair accuracy

The resolution on our 3D printers is as accurate as 0.028mm (0.001 inches), which is thinner than a human hair (average head hair is 0.1mm thick). The accuracy depends on which printer you are using – the Objet printer produces the most detailed of prints, where as theFDM machines are rougher, but produce stronger models.

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materials

The range of 3D printing materials

The materials used in 3D printing are not only limited to opaque plastics and ceramic powder based materials, there is now a huge range of mediums available to suit almost any type of product, and it is even possible to print in multiple materials in the same print. We however only currenly offer a high detail white resin, but other materials that can be used for 3D printing include:

  • Plastics
  • ABS, Polypropylene, Clear Acrylic.
  • Metals
  • Steel, Stainless Steel, Titanium, Gold, Sliver.
  • Composites
  • Ceramic type composite (colour)
  • Other
  • Rubber, Paper, Sugar, Sand, meat & other foods, human tissue….

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