Metal 3D printing is helping to redefine part design, with capabilities to build ever-increasingly complex parts in less time and with little human intervention. Welcome to the industrial-grade 3D printing process of direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), which is the focus of our monthly design tip.
Med device developers are turning to industrial-grade metal 3D printing to produce a variety of prototype and end-use parts, including these components used for surgical instruments.
Through additive manufacturing technology, DMLS produces fully function metal prototypes and end-use parts, simplifies assembly by reducing component counts, offers virtually unlimited complexity with no additional cost, and works for a variety of industries, including the med device space (see part photo).
This month’s tip discusses:
- A short overview of DMLS
- Ways to avoid warping and curling with certain part features
- Part orientation
- Wall thickness considerations
READ FULL DESIGN TIP
The automotive industry, including the disruptive tech giants, are investing tremendous amounts of funding and human capital into the development of autonomous vehicles and related technologies. Evidence of this is General Motors’ $500 million investment in Lyft and $1 billion into the upcoming acquisition of Cruise Automation Inc. It’s difficult to read about the automotive industry without encountering discussions around autonomous driving. The auto industry is hiring software developers at a pace once that was once limited to mechanical and industrial engineers.
A rendering of possible autonomous driving interaction. Source: General Motors
Market Adoption … Eventually
So, why is the auto industry going down this path when a majority of the American consumers flat out do not want a driverless car or trust the concept yet? A recent J.D. Power survey found that just over half of Gen Z and Gen Y are interested — that’s surprisingly low, since these groups are more comfortable with public transportation and delay owning a car more than previous generations. And only about 41% of Gen Xers support self-driving technology, a rate that shrinks further for the baby boomers at 23%. It’s important to note here that the peak age for purchasing a new car is 43 years old.
The answer lies in the fact that the “R” in automotive R&D historically occurs 10 to 20 years before actually moving to production lines. This extended timeline frequently means the industry is working on things the consumer has not yet even taken into account. But as discussed in an earlier post, recent tech giant disruptions are shortening this product development cycle.
Every year, cyclists converge in Battle Mountain, Nevada in pursuit of achieving speed records at the World Human Powered Speed Challenge (WHPSC). The competition is a mix of athletic performance, engineering and a seemingly endless number of variables. This past fall, Teagan Patterson, a Battle Mountain native and high-speed bicyclist, teamed up with Eric Ware and Mark Anderson to design a bicycle capable of capturing the world record — and her lifelong dream.
Mark and Eric are veterans of the WHPSC having raced in 2009 with their vehicle, the Wedge, and reaching speeds above 70 mph — good for the eighth fastest time in the world and third fastest in American cycling history.
Drawing from their previous success, they worked with Teagan in preparation for the 2015 WHPSC, where they would try for another record.
Eric Ware knew Proto Labs from his day job as a mechanical engineer, so he decided to call us up for some machined parts for the bicycle design. In this Q&A, Ware gives a look behind-the-scenes at his team’s project.
Eric Utley, application specialist at Proto Labs.
We’ve been 3D printing for a while now, and our facility in Raleigh, North Carolina is packed with 3D printing specialists. For this installment of our Q&A, we spoke with one of those experts, Eric Utley, application specialist, for a chat about stereolithography and why product designers and engineers need it for prototyping.
To start off, can you give a quick overview of the stereolithography (SL) process?
Stereolithography uses UV light shot from a laser to cure a liquid thermoset resin called a photopolymer. In fact, even though 3D printing is often thought of as a new technology, SL has been around since the 1980s. But there’s a reason it has stuck around for so long — it has some key features that product designers need for prototypes.
What are some of those key features unique to SL?
I’d say the most important feature is that it creates a very high-resolution part with excellent surface finishes.
It can handle micro-sized features so it’s most suitable for parts that have a high level of detail. Most SL parts will have a nice, smooth finish and, although it’s typically used for prototyping, it leaves you with the feel of a final part — and looks go along way when sharing your new product design.
Another important benefit of SL is that it’s our most flexible process in terms of geometry it can handle, which gives designers a lot of freedom to work with.
HP Inc. made its announcement Tuesday morning at RAPID, the 3D printing trade show underway this week in Orlando. Here’s a glimpse of HP’s booth at RAPID.
Proto Labs has been selected by HP Inc. as a product testing site for the printing and PC giant’s new HP Multi Jet Fusion technology for industrial-grade 3D printing.
HP announced its new technology today at RAPID, a 3D printing and additive manufacturing trade show underway in Orlando, Florida through May 19. Proto Labs is at RAPID. You can find us at booth #443 to talk with a customer service engineer about our industrial-grade 3D printing services.
We’re excited to test drive this new technology that looks to be a dramatic leap ahead in 3D printing. We are looking forward to collaborating with HP on this new platform that promises to be faster and more economical than currently available 3D printing options.
Proto Labs’ staffers take a short photo break during RAPID underway all week in Orlando. From left, Joe Cretella, Greg Thompson, Rob Connelly and Thomas Davis. Visit Proto Labs at booth #443.
Proto Labs is one of several companies HP is working with as part of the company’s Early Customer Engagement Program, which conducts product testing and garners user feedback.
We were chosen because of our extensive experience as a prime user of industrial-grade 3D printing technology (also known as additive manufacturing) for our prototyping and low-volume manufacturing services.
READ THE FULL PRESS RELEASE ANNOUNCEMENT