Previously thought of as a prototyping tool, 3D printing is today transformed into a new era of manufacturing that is shortening the product development cycle and bringing ideas to reality.
The production method by which a 3D CAD model is transformed into a physical object by adding material layer by layer is known as additive manufacturing, popularly known as 3D Printing. Since the part is produced or printed directly onto a print bed, specific tools like cutting tools or molds are not needed in this process.
With the aid of a computer-generated 3D model, the object is split into several cross-sections and then built on the print bed by adding the material layer upon layer until the process is completed. Additive manufacturing is used for rapid manufacturing, rapid prototyping, and rapid tooling where a master is made via 3D printing. It is largely used to create physical prototypes, models, patterns, tooling components, and production parts out of materials such as polymers, composites, metals, biomaterials, and ceramics.
By using 3D Printing, businesses can speed up and streamline the product development process. They can also use additive manufacturing as a tool for product visualization, enabling them to perfect every part of the design before releasing it onto the market.
RA Global offers 3D Printing and Prototyping service to turn your designs into reality. We 3D print for businesses or individuals who can benefit from the 3D printing process. Additive manufacturing is used to make show or concept models, production parts, spare parts, rapid prototyping of a product, rapid manufacturing, and rapid tooling.
Additive Manufacturing - 3D Printing Processes
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
Fused Deposition Modeling is also known as Fused filament fabrication or called FDM, is a 3D printing process that uses a continuous filament of a thermoplastic material. The filament is fed from a large spool through a moving, heated printer extruder head, and is deposited on the bed layer by layer as per the part geometry. This is the most widely used 3D printing system in the world; Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) provides unmatched reliability, repeatability, and a wide range of material options. Ranging from inexpensive prototyping materials like ABS and PLA to engineering and high-performance 3D printing materials like Polycarbonate, Nylon, Carbon Fiber, and ULTEM. FDM is the most versatile and commonly requested service at RA Global.
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is an additive manufacturing technique that uses a laser as the power source to sinter fine powdered thermoplastic material (typically Nylon or Polyamide), aiming the laser automatically at points in space defined by a 3D model, binding the material together to create a solid structure. When the model is finished, it is removed from the part bed and polished on the visible surfaces before being finished. This guarantees a single robust component that can withstand all necessary tests. Thin-walled ducts, impellers, enclosures, and housings, as well as live hinges, which were previously impractical to produce, may now be made with relative simplicity thanks to SLS prototypes' lack of post-curing requirements.
Stereolithography (SLA) is an additive manufacturing technique that may be used to produce parts with a smooth finish and high levels of detail. Typically, 3D printers that use this method use a liquid resin that becomes solid when exposed to light from a UV laser. The laser is controlled using motors and mirrors to trace out the cross-sections of objects in layers. These layers stack on top of one another to create the desired object. SLA is used to create prototypes that need to be highly precise since it adds layers one at a time by tracing a UV laser beam on the surface of the liquid photo-curable resin.
Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)
Direct Metal Laser Sintering is perfect for metal parts with complex geometries, organic shapes, and hollow designs in prototyping. Compared to an identical part created using conventional manufacturing technology, it maximizes performance and minimizes weight. In succeeding layers of DMLS, metal particles are fused together by the heat from a laser. Based on the information the CAD model provides, the laser is directed along the scanning bed. The model is finished, taken from the part bed, and any extra powder is brushed off. It is then heated to remove any remaining tensions. By removing the supports and sanding the surfaces, it is completed.
Advantages of 3D Printing
- Fast Turnaround - Helps in quick Product Development
- Complexity - Parts with complex geometry can be easily printed compared to conventional manufacturing
- Scalability - Can be used for single prototype, small-scale batch manufacturing, and for production requirements
- Reliable Quality, Complex assemblies can be printed as a single part
Since a 'prototype' is never just a prototype
Every stage of the product development process requires the use of prototypes. You need prototypes that adhere to your specifications if you wish to undertake form, fit, and function testing or use a model that is accurate to your design as verification.
Engineers and designers can quickly and frequently revise their concepts thanks to rapid prototyping. 3D Printed prototypes are useful for both visual and functional testing because of the variety of accessible technologies and materials, including plastics and metals.