How to Make Your 3D Rapid Prototypes Processes
Currently, several new manufacturing technique additives are being developed and manufactured. Some of these techniques are ideal for consumer applications and industrial environment but not suited for rapid prototyping. Today, we will share main several 3D rapid prototypes processes in order to see their advantage and weaknesses, so that you can know which best one will be suit with your projects.
Below are top 7 main 3D rapid prototypes manufacturing processes
This is the most used RP-technology. It can be used to produce detailed and accurate polymer parts. It’s best used in making prototypes and vacuum casting master patterns. It is fast and cost effective. The finished product is usually not strong enough and has a good surface finish. Depending on the machine you are using, the product may either need support or not.
The self-adhesive property makes the layers to bond and form a complete 3D object when several layers have been formed. Layers are derived from 2-dimensional cross sections of the three dimensional CAD model. It has become the default computer language which is used by most 3-dimensional printers despite the printing technology being used.
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
This 3D rapid prototypes was patented in 1989. The basic concept of this technique is similar to stereolithography. It’s commonly used in additive manufacturing in critical fields such as aerospace, medicine and aerospace. Fine metal powder of equal size and shape is welded fully on a building plate using a high powered laser in a sealed chamber.
This type of prototyping uses a laser to sinter power method. This method can work in both metal and plastic prototypes. A major strength of this method is that parts can be manufactured using complex geometrics which would be otherwise difficult to do so.
The surface finish is however rough and it may require more work to complete it. Its strength is not very good compared to SLA printed parts. The powder should be kept at elevated temperature. Additional support structures may not be required since the excess powder in each layer acts as support.
This is a relatively new three-dimensional prototype. The prototype has a potential of becoming a high volume mass producing technique. Hundreds of nozzles are used to spray very fine droplets of the liquid binder to form a layer which is then compacted using a roller. Its then re-coated with powder and sprayed again for the other layer.
The semi-finished parts should be cured in an oven to fuse the metal powder into a solid when they are removed from the build chamber. This method can be used to print many parts at a go. However, these parts aren’t as strong as SLS parts which are fully welded. The technology is still under development and it’s expected to be cost-effective compared to earlier technologies.
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
This technology uses a spool of plastic filaments melted inside the barrel of printing nozzles. It’s the kind of 3D rapid prototypes used at home or in small shops. A hot liquid resin is laid layer by layer and it’s controlled using a .stl cutting program.
It is an easy-to-use technique which is not expensive. It is also safe enough to be used by kids. However, some of the weaknesses of this technology include poor resolution and weak parts. It is however ideal for making models and prototypes used during initial development.
Selective Laser Melting (SLM)
This is a form of powder-bed fusion. It’s an industrial technology which requires controlled conditions. Metal powders commonly used include titanium, cobalt chrome, stainless steel and maraging steel.
It’s the technology preferred for making sophisticated and very strong parts. The technology is also expensive and it’s controlled by a qualified engineer. It’s best suited for demanding applications such as aerospace, defense, automotive and medical parts.
Digital Light Processing (DLP)
This is a technology similar to SLA technique. It requires post building curing and support structures. The process is faster and a shallow reservoir of photoresin may be used to cut down costs.
A conventional light source is used to cure the resin. There is a variation of this process known as continuous liquid interface production. The parts are pulled in a continuous motion from the vat with no layers using a non-interrupted process.
When the parts are withdrawn, they cross a light barrier which is programmed to alter the configuration to form the requisite pattern on the plastic. The finished product has a smooth finish and excellent dimensional tolerance.
Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM)
This technology uses thermoplastic materials and the surface finish is usually rough. metal foil, plastic sheet or paper laminates can be used. The technology is cheaper compared to SLM or SLS and the finished product is also less sophisticated. Using paper laminates produces a finished product which is similar to wood and can be worked on accordingly.
The thickness of the layer is dropped and a new laminate glued on top and the process is repeated. The stacking method results in finished parts which aren’t too sophisticated.
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