How to Select the Right 3D Printing Technology

The term 3D printing encompasses several manufacturing technologies that build parts layer-by-layer. Each vary in the way they form plastic and metal parts and can differ in material selection, surface finish, durability, and manufacturing speed and cost.

Selecting the right 3D printing technology for your application requires an understanding of each process’ strengths and weaknesses and mapping those attributes to your product development needs. Let’s first discuss how 3D printing fits within the product development cycle and then take a look at common 3D printing technologies and the advantages of each.

Metal 3D-printed parts can enable design features not possible with traditional manufacturing processes.

3D Printing for Prototyping and Beyond
It’s safe to say 3D printing is most often used for prototyping. Its ability to quickly manufacture a single part enables product developers to validate and share ideas in a cost-effective manner. Determining the purpose of your prototype will inform which 3D printing technology will be the most beneficial. Additive manufacturing can be suitable for a range of prototypes that span from simple physical models to parts used for functional testing.

Despite 3D printing being nearly synonymous with rapid prototyping, there are scenarios when it’s a viable production process. Typically these applications involve low-volumes and complex geometries. Often, components for aerospace and medical applications are ideal candidates for production 3D printing as they frequently match the criteria previously described. Continue reading

3D Printing Education Gets Boost from Concept Laser, Arizona State U, Others

EYE ON INNOVATION

Leaders from the 3D printing industry have lamented in the past that universities’ engineering curriculums need to offer more courses and programs in industrial 3D printing technologies, also known as additive manufacturing, in order to better prepare the next generation of engineers.

Those educational programs received a giant boost in January when Arizona State University (ASU) announced the opening of a new Academic Additive Manufacturing Center at ASU’s Polytechnic School in Mesa.

Arizona State University recently opened its new Academic Additive Manufacturing Center, made possible by a partnership with Concept Laser, Honeywell Aerospace, and Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies. Representatives of this partnership paused for a photo during the center’s opening activities.

The 15,000 sq.-ft. center, which holds more than $2 million of plastic, polymer and 3D metal printing equipment, was made possible by a partnership ASU formed with Concept Laser, Honeywell Aerospace, and Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies.

John Murray, president and CEO of U.S. Concept Laser, who has been one of those industry leaders worried about the lack of 3D printing curriculum at universities, was a part of the partnership announcement. “Changing the future of metal additive manufacturing begins with educated teachers and curious students,” he said. “The educational leadership that the ASU Polytechnic School provides to the Southwest region and the industry will certainly be impactful. Concept Laser is proud to be a partner in this initiative.” Continue reading

Webinar Round-Up: On-demand Manufacturing and Complex Molding Processes

Next in our 2017 webinar series, we discussed rapid overmolding and insert molding. The presentation shares how these advanced molding processes work, how to design for each, and concludes with an open Q&A.

The webinar can be viewed on demand here.

Key takeaways:

  • Design considerations for overmolding and insert molding
  • Recommendations for material compatibility in two-material plastic parts
  • How to implement preformed components into plastic part designs

Additional Webinars
Miss last month’s webinar on reducing production costs with quick-turn manufacturing? That presentation can also be viewed on demand, here. And, Check out our round-up of 2016 webinars to view additional Proto Labs webinars, which cover designing for 3D printing, material selection, and more.

Meet the Cool Idea! Award Judges: Andy MacInnis

The Cool Idea! Award judges are technologists, innovators, entrepreneurs, instructors, and some are even past Cool Idea! Award recipients. All of our judges have a story worth sharing, so we sat down with each for a quick Q&A to help you get to know them a bit better.

Andy MacInnis is a director at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Andy MacInnis is the technical instructor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He leads the Integrated Design & Management (IDM) track, which takes a hands-on and practical approach to design. Prior to his position at MIT, Andy founded Monster Prototype—a leading go-to model and prototype firm in the Boston area. At Monster Prototype, he consulted companies developing consumer products, medical devices, and footwear.

What are you looking forward to most about being a Cool Idea! Award judge in 2017?
Seeing where inventors find the junction of Need and Solution.

Tell us about your background—what’s something about your professional life that we wouldn’t necessarily know by looking at your LinkedIn profile?
I find the challenge of repairing old things like cars, boats, houses, and bikes rewarding and worthwhile. Continue reading

Video: Industrial 3D printing for Prototyping and Production

It takes more than designing a digital 3D model and pressing the print button to produce quality 3D-printed parts. Understanding material properties, support structures, post-build processing, and the differences between additive manufacturing processes all contribute to the quality of a 3D-printed part.

In this video, you’ll learn how we produce precise and repeatable results across our three industrial 3D printing processes and how you can best leverage additive manufacturing during product development.

 

 

Want to better understand the capabilities and benefits of industrial 3D printing? Check out our resources to learn more.