Archive for the ‘Rapid Prototyping’ Category

Printing Air Planes

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

3D printing is going to change the way all material is produced one day. At some point 3D printers will create the parts for our automobiles, components for computers, our children’s toys, and almost anything else you can think of. A new and exciting prospect for 3D printing is the manufacturing of air drones, unmanned air craft created from a 3D printer. The production of drone components today is very much an assembly process. Robotics and humans work together on creating identical drones today. The 3D printed air drones of the future can be tweaked and perfected for individual tasks with very little effort.

Do you need a drone for information gathering? Perhaps it needs to collect topography information, or measure readings from an active volcano. Just create a design for it, feed it into the 3D printer and it will produce the right tool for the job. Do you need a drone for spraying crops? Just use a design for it. How about a killer flying robot for the military? You know the government already has a design for that. In fact this process is so painless that a design can go from paper to reality within a matter of days. A team from the University of South Hampton is working on perfecting the printing of these 3D unmanned aircraft, and they have already test flown a prototype.

The process the University of South Hampton is using is known as selective laser sintering. They use a 3D printer in conjunction with a polymer powder to create the parts for the air drone. In this process a prototype component is shaved into appropriate layers and then it is melted into its proper form. This is done layer, by ultra thin layer, until the component is the proper shape. Not only can this 3D printer create static parts, but it can also create moveable components in the final design with little assembly required.

This seems like an exciting step in the future of aircraft design. Without having to worry about laborers and delicate hand/robot cut components, designers will be freer in their plans. The mathematics and physics of airflow can be more adventurously tackled as less “straight line” designs are needed. Straight line components are easier to create and keep costs down, when you don’t need to worry about cutting the right curvature of a component that issue becomes non-existent. I can’t wait for us all to have consumer 3D printers (or replicators if you will), so I can make my own aircraft and not have to deal with the TSA.

Preserving Our History with 3D Printing

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Beyond the manufacturing advantages, the combination of 3D scanning and 3D printing has led to an incredible way of preserving rare artifacts from the past. For many collectables, the primary reason they have dwindled in number has always been the extreme cost of having the original molds remade from scratch. With a 3D printer, the physical molds are replaced with digital instructions, provided by a 3D scan of the original object, or created carefully with design software. This process has been used to recreate tools, toys, machine parts, forgotten oddities and even some more ancient artifacts. Using 3D print materials based on clay or ceramic powder, it is possible replicate very old pottery. This will eventually make it less expensive for museums to exhibit a wider variety of history.

Here at AP Extrusion, many of us share an interest in recreating old automobiles, especially the muscle cars of the 1960s. 3D printing makes it possible to replicate the plastic components that have long since passed out of market. This enables us to restore a complete vehicle without spending years hunting down parts. We are always interesting in talking to anyone who shares our passion and in many cases, we may be able to help with your custom restoration efforts. Consider 3D printing as an alternative to any custom molding project and you will likely find the time and cost are greatly reduced.


The Future of 3D Printing

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Since the early days of science fiction, people have known that eventually our path of technological evolution would lead us toward machines that could create any physical object based on specified parameters. The birth of 3D printing in 1986 was our first real step toward achieving this vision and as companies realized the tremendous savings when compared to traditional prototyping techniques, many new branches of research quickly opened up. Though the first 3D printers could only use one particular type of plastic, the demand for other materials led to techniques for rapid prototyping with metal, glass, and clay, as well as other types of plastic and hardened resin.

The first commercially available 3D bio-printer was recently announced by a company called Invetech as being capable of printing tissue and organs at the cellular level. One of the most exciting spin-offs of 3D printing is a project called RepRap, which is open-source, meaning that all its blueprints and results are publicized and can be used by anyone freely. RepRap is the first known attempt at building a self-replicating machine, the ultimate goal being to have RepRap print more RepRaps. Having undergone several revisions already, RepRap can now print all of its own plastic components and the research is currently being targetted at the printing of whole circuit boards.

Part of the project’s stated goal is to “enable the individual to manufacture many of the artifacts used in everyday life” for “a minimal outlay of capital”, so it’s not that difficult to see where a few more decades of research could lead. With the right supply of power cells and raw materials, a single RepRap could concievably be given the blueprint for an entire building and then print up as many copies of itself as were needed to construct the building blocks and put them in place. Some have even speculated that advanced versions of RepRap will eventually be able to improve their own design, essentially beginning a path of AI evolution.


Eliminate guesswork in your next design project with Rapid Prototyping

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

If you’re a design engineer the last concern you want to have when your product is going into production is, “Will it work they way in which it was intended?” While oversights in design can be rectified post-production, it’s costly and timely – not to mention a lost opportunity for your company.

No company wants to lose market share due to a delayed product release, which could have been avoid had they chosen to elect rapid prototyping services to improve the design process.

The benefits of rapid prototyping services is quite simple: Design engineers can improve the accuracy of their products’ design by creating a 3D prototype model that will allow the various concepts to be tested before it’s manufactured and introduced to the marketplace.

But despite its growing popularity Rapid Prototyping technologies is underutilized by many industries that could otherwise benefit from its use. The biggest benefit of creating rapid prototype models is that it can produce a prototype model quickly, and at a low cost.

Wonder how quick the turn-around actually is for creating a rapid prototype?
More often times than not, manufacturers who offer rapid prototyping services can produce a model in hours, where it use to take days or weeks. Because of the expediency and efficiency of this service, it can decrease the typical time it takes to get a product to the marketplace up to 80%.

When you’re ready to minimize the risk and time delays in your next product design, consider contracting a rapid prototyping manufacturer—they are quickly becoming a valuable resource that design engineers can’t live without.


Taking a bite out of 3D Scanning

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Most people fear going to the dentist—well, fear the dentist no more, thanks to 3D Scanning.
At one time or another, the majority of people have had dental impressions made to replace a tooth. But before the introduction of 3D scanning, the process was invasive, time-consuming, and expensive for the patient—for sure; but it also put dentists in the precarious position of relying upon traditional methods used by dental technicians to make a bridge, crown or inlay that was precise, durable, and aesthetically accurate.

Thanks to innovations in 3D Scanning technology the dental industry can deliver better services to its customers (the dentists) and the end-user (the patients).

Due to the quality and precision of 3D scanning, the technicians no longer have to estimate calculations of a dental piece. A 3D scan provides the dental technicians with precise calculations which now guarantee that the patient will receive a perfect fit of their dental piece down to a millimeter. This in turn improves the productivity for the dentist, as they can be provided with a dental piece created by 3D model scanning that does not need to go through further adjustments to accurately fit the patient.

3D scanning technology also allows for highly advanced materials to be used which previously were limited by conventional methods which relied upon manual casting and finishing. Because of the speed and elimination of “human error” in the production, dental pieces, such as a titanium framework or glass ceramic full crown can now be made in less than half the time, at a lower cost; and because of its inherent properties of strength and durability, it provides for better long-term results for the patient.


Built Tough with ABS 3D Printing

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Few manufacturing techniques can offer companies with boundless opportunities to perfect a product or piece of equipment such that ABS 3D printing provides.

And while industries ranging from medical devices to consumer products have benefitted from advancements in ABS 3D Printing technology, its use in the automotive industry has enhanced innovations in design.

In one such instance, General Motors turned to AMP Research, a tier-one supplier to the automotive industry, to develop concepts for an alloy fuel door for its Hummer H2 sport utility vehicle.

According to a report, due to the design flexibility of ABS 3D Printing, AMP Research engineers could quickly provide GM with a variety of physical models of the fuel door that were easily produced with the aid of ABS 3D printing. Getting prototypes in front of GM faster for review and approval allowed AMP to move through the design process of the fuel door for testing and evaluation much faster.

Wonder how 3D ABS printing helped?

By creating an ABS prototype, engineers could refine designs and cut time from development schedule as it now how the time to test form, fit and functions, while also exploring as many design options as they needed to meet performance specifications. The benefit is that they could readily detect flaws and take corrective steps to deliver excellence to their customer before a costly error was made. So ABS 3D Printing helped to keep the project ahead of schedule and improved the overall product development process.


Rapid prototype models can eliminate psychological stress

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

From medical devices such as stints to custom-made human implants used in reconstructive surgery, the use of rapid prototype models is rapidly growing in popularity among designers and engineers, due to new and innovative technology—and the reasons are evident.

Looking at anatomical parts as one example:

Rapid prototype models allows for an accurate fabrication of a patient’s implant—whether it’s for bone replacement or prosthesis. Because it’s customized to fit the patient, the benefits of utilizing rapid prototype models allow for the surgeon to conduct preoperative planning and practice in advance of the actual surgery. The surgery thereby becomes less invasive for the patient, reduces reconstruction time, and provides better esthetic results.

Due to this proactive approach facilitated by rapid prototyping, it has also been found to alleviate a patient’s pre-surgery psychological stress, as they have more confidence that the surgical complications will be minimized if not eliminated.

But the benefits of rapid prototyping don’t end there, as it also aids in eliminating risk of product failure. And for engineers and designers who are working to improve product performance, rapid prototyping facilitates faster manufacturing and produces higher quality end products.

After a rapid prototype model is developed, it can be evaluated as to its shape, size and general feel. The level of quality control that rapid prototype models provide allows the design team to answer questions such as: Is this providing the feel we want? Will the prosthesis attach easily? Is there anything obstructive about its design? Will it deliver maximum performance?

Given the design flexibility of rapid prototype models, these questions can be quickly answered and products can be improved more cost-effectively and rapidly.


3D Printing is an automatic “Hole-in-One”

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

What does 3D printing and golf have in common?

If you’re TaylorMade and pro golfer Mark O’Meara you can equate it with success — affecting both game performance and sales performance.

When TaylorMade was looking to produce a new set of irons, they turned to O’Meara and 3D printing. While the story is not recent, it is relevant as to the beneficial use of 3D printing.

O’Meara was getting ready for the 1998 Skins Game and asked TaylorMade to have the irons ready in time for him to use during the tournament. TaylorMade had limited time to test and develop its new set of clubs, but because of the availability and expediency of 3D printing, they were able to create 50 wax patterns on a 3D printer, which were then sent to a foundry for casting and finishing.

The end result: The prototype of the Firesole Tour Irons were developed on time using 3D printing, which also provided for tremendous cost-savings—and of course, O’Meara won the Skins Game.

While not every manufacturer has a pro golfer at their disposal to test new products, it does have access to 3D printing technology that can assist its design engineers throughout the product development process.

3D Printing has provided innovative solutions to companies like TaylorMade, but also has been utilized for manufacturers who develop medical equipment for people with disabilities, and 3D printing has also assisted EOIR technologies with the development of a camera mount for the M1 tank and Bradley fighting vehicle.

From the frontline to the golf course, 3D printing technology takes the guesswork out of prototype development to ensure a product’s performance under all “stressful” conditions.


Make two-dimensional ideas, into 3D prototyping reality!

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

If you can dream it and draw it, it can be built – well, as long as you’re not looking for a ball park in a cornfield.

But if you’re daring to do the seemingly impossible in your parts design, remember this: Dreams fuel innovation and innovation supports progress, and rapid prototyping works to take your idea and move it from the two-dimensional paper world into a 3D rapid prototype reality.

The late 1980’s introduced 3D Rapid Prototyping and since then it has been used by sculptors to R & D engineering because of the scope of capabilities it offers the designer.

But what exactly is rapid prototyping and why would you need it?
In the simplest of terms: rapid prototyping development is recognized as a means to improve the overall design process.

To take it one step further—rapid prototyping helps to streamline the manufacturing process by reducing the overall time spent on a design project. It accomplishes this by allowing for flexibility in the design process of a prototype model—in that it provides R & D engineering the time to evaluate the results of a prototype more immediately, make necessary design adjustments, and test the part before putting it into production.

In the end, rapid prototyping development speeds up the time to bring a product to market, which reduces total designs costs.

Essentially, rapid prototype manufacturing cuts out unnecessary steps that previously slowed down production, and eliminates design flaws that might otherwise have been overlooked, thereby making rapid prototyping a means to reap immediate rewards.
So when should you choose to take your next design to the inexpensive rapid prototyping solution? —The next time your R & D team wants to fully explore their creative ideas and generate a final product that will bring your company to the next level of success.


Will wonders never cease?: 3D Model Printing helping Soldiers heal

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Despite all the hardship news facing our country today, between economic downturns, corporate scandal, and government mistrust, there is a light of hope, and it comes in the form of 3D model printing.

It’s innovative, readily available and people from doctors to architects to manufacturers have taken a closer look at the many benefits that 3D model printing and rapid prototyping provides. 3D model printing has been in use since the 1990’s, but advances in technology have catapulted into new arenas.

According to a 2008 report in BusinessWeek, surgeons at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, who treat soldiers wounded in Iraq, recognized that 3D model printing would assist them in preparing for surgical procedures. And it may surprise you as to the reasons why.

By having the opportunity to practice complex surgery on plastic casts of the actual patient’s injured body part produced by 3D model printing, it helped to minimize complications surgeons may face during the operation, such as causing damage to arteries and nerves precariously located near the surgery location.

Other medical facilities are also benefitting from 3D model printing, particular those that specialize in reconstructive plastic surgery that involves facial prosthetics.
With the aid of 3D camera and the proper software that converts the image into a map of a person’s face, a doctor can transfer the image to create a mask using 3D model printing that they use as a guide to help with the surgery.

Although the future can’t be predicted, it’s evident that 3D model printing will continue to open up other doors of opportunity–and hope–for various industries and professions.