This year we have been working with Stratasys to get started with SAF technology and their H350 printer. This week they shared a bit about us on LinkedIn! Take a look to see some more pics of our team!
SLS, SLA, or SAF? Comparing 3D printing methods
There are many different 3D printing processes that have been developed in the last decade, and hundreds of materials along with them, each with their own benefits. So why does 3D Composites focus on FDM and SAF?
The difference lies in the materials.
Material properties are the first determining factor for any manufacturing process, and it is the same for 3D printing. Our mainstay printing method has been our FDM process that uses a variety of production-grade thermoplastics to print parts suitable for specified industries like aerospace and medical. The main material component in SAF is PA12, a nylon polymer, and is commonly used in a wide range of applications because of its high mechanical strength and durability.
Selective laser sintering (SLS) and stereolithography (SLA) are both methods of 3D printing that utilize lasers to bond or fuse material into a solid object. SLS uses a powder base material while SLA uses a liquid resin. Both the SLS and SLA methods share some similarities with our preferred process. Selective absorption fusion (SAF) combines the technology of powder bed fusion and certain binder jetting techniques to fuse powder together using infrared energy. Each of these three processes use bonding or fusion to create end-use parts, but we have found that SAF’s fusion technique is stronger, and the nylon polymer material has a wider set of capabilities than resin.
When you are ready to 3D print your parts, we can help make sure you are getting strong, high accuracy prints that are built to last. Connect with us today to get started!
Additive Manufacturing Outlook for the New Year
What 3D printing process is best for your industry? Whether you are designing a huge tooling mold or need to do a run of hundreds of fingernail sized parts, we can print it. It’s a new year and our team and 3D Composites wanted to share with you our thoughts on which of our additive manufacturing processes we can provide for you in 2023.
FDM is still on top for Aerospace
The 3D printing market is growing at an amazing rate, with new technologies and processes continually expanding what can be done for manufacturing. However, it takes time for these processes and materials to meet the test requirements that are necessary for aerospace industry certifications. The FDM printing process has maintained its position because of the high-grade thermoplastic materials options that can meet the requirements of common aerospace standards such as flammability, strength, and durability.
FDM is also a great source for concept modelling and tooling. If you know your project will be printed in FDM you can work from a highly accurate prototype for relatively low costs. Heat resistant materials like Ultem 1010 can withstand thermoforming and autoclaving, making low cost tooling for short production runs accessible to smaller development teams. FDM manufactured parts can also span a greater surface area than other additive manufacturing process because it can keep complex geometries on a small scale while also being able to withstand bonding of oversized builds. Last year 3DC printed over 20,000 FDM aerospace parts for our customers and 2023 will see even more.
High-volume Production & Prototyping with SAF
For us, end use parts don’t stop at aerospace, however. This year our reach has expanded to providing higher volume production runs that will benefit any industry. The selective absorption fusion (SAF) process allows for small part production at a higher rate than previously available to us, yielding repeat parts quickly while still leaving room for customized prototypes. The surface finish of SAF parts can be more aesthetically pleasing than FDM parts, and while Ultem 9085 is still the leader for fly-away parts and Ultem 1010 for high-tempurature tooling, SAF PA12’s mechanical properties give it the rigidity and thermal control for repeatable output. We have found that customers who print items such as medical accessories and industrial caps and fittings have made the switch to SAF because they can get consistent quality at a reduced rate.
We can help you begin
Even as the technology continues to develop, the future of 3D printing and additive manufacturing still offers comparatively sustainable practices and lower costs. Efficient processes and customized solutions can give you the most out of your design. Contact us for more information on what 3D printing processes would be best for your project.
3D Printing Into The New Millenium
The Milestones in the 2000s
Now we continue on with the remarkable history of 3D printing, as it leaves the 1990s, which years heralded the wide diversification of the technology. With so many developments, we are concentrating only on the most important breakthroughs.
The year 2000 saw the first 3D printed kidney; however, it took another 13 years to have one transplanted into a person. Since then, there have been more 3D printed kidneys now working perfectly while other 3D printed organs for transplant are developing rapidly.
In 2004, a self-replicating 3D printer was launched – a 3D printer printing another 3D printer. It’s called the RepRap Project, an open-source initiative that spreads the use of the FDM 3D desktop 3D printers. In 2005, the very first high-definition color 3D printer was introduced, called the Spectrum Z510 by ZCorp. In 2006, the first commercially available SLS printer was released, with on-demand manufacturing of industrial parts. CAD tools also became more available at this time, enabling anyone to develop 3D models on their computers.
In 2007, 3D Systems introduced the first 3D printing system under $10,000. It did not quite catch on as insiders, watchers, and users were looking forward to 3D printers under $5,000. Actually, 2007 was the year accessible 3D printing technology took root. Thanks to the RepRap phenomenon. In 2008, the first prosthetic leg was printed and it was sensational around the world. By 2009, new companies and competitors began to avail of the new technology as FDM patents fell into the public domain. The prices of 3D printers started to decline in the 2010s, making them available to the general public. Quality and ease of printing also increased.
Materials also evolved. A variety of plastics and filaments became widely available. Carbon fiber and glass fiber can be 3D printed. In 2012, alternative 3D printing processes were introduced at the entry level, like those using DLP technology, followed by stereolithography, with huge success. It was also in 2012 that many different mainstream media channels featured the technology. 2013 was a year of significant growth and consolidation. In 2019, the world’s largest functional 3D printed building was completed. 3D printing is now being used in developing healthcare applications, and many industries and sectors have adopted the technology into their daily workflow. By the 2020s came the more advanced additive manufacturing materials that are high performance materials offering improved thermal resistance, chemical resistance, or heat resistance for the most demanding applications.
Advancing Into The Future with 3D Printing
If you are looking into the advances of 3D printing technology, visit us at 3D Composites. We have been in business serving the community in the last three decades.
Robotic End-of-Arm Tooling in Ultem 1010
These cylindrical pieces were designed to work as part of an end-of-arm tool for a robotic arm. We printed them in Ultem 1010 because we wanted to be sure that they would be strong enough to withstand the repetitive motion of the robot’s work path.
Robots are used in all industries for increased productivity, and customized end-of-arm tools make sure that your automation is specific to your needs. 3D printing with Ultem 1010 is a great choice because it can be certified for food-contact and bio-compatibility.
We printed these tools with different edge heights so that the caps go from a flat surface to a more conical point. The option to have interchangeable tools gives the capability to have a range of finished products that can have build variations while maintaining quality consistency.
Can your project benefit from interchangeable custom parts? What other applications should we integrate with 3D printing? Send us your questions and ideas.