We’ve watched a design move from 3D CAD model to final part. We’ve stepped inside a high-speed CNC machine. And we’ve looked at how injection molding can produce quick-turn plastic, metal and liquid silicone rubber parts. We’re closing our video series with topic of many manufacturing conversations as of late: 3D printing.
Additive manufacturing (aka 3D printing) is increasingly being used to rapidly build prototypes and even functional, end-use parts. Proto Labs employs three advanced additive processes: stereolithography (SL), selective laser sintering (SLS) and direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). Check out our short video to see how additive manufacturing at Proto Labs can help on your next project.
Additive manufacturing in DMLS
The rise of direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) has opened up a new world of 3D-printed metal prototypes and production parts. DMLS fuses metal powder into thousands of thin layers, making it particularly well-suited for highly complex metal parts that are unable to be machined and multi-part assemblies that can be reduced into a single piece.
The advanced additive process complements high-speed CNC machining, by producing fully dense end-use parts built in a range of metals like aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, cobalt chrome and Inconel. Our latest design tip explains the DMLS process, its benefits and provides some design advice on how to build better parts for DMLS
Rob Bodor, Proto Labs’ VP and GM, Americas
*Excerpt courtesy of Bill Wong and Electronic Design
Turning an idea into a product is more than just hacking some hardware and software together. It’s easier to develop a prototype with 3D printers, but many other techniques and methodologies are more appropriate for some applications. Likewise, turning from a prototype to production can be a challenge.
Along those lines, Proto Labs offers a range of production and design services, and maintains extensive production facilities to deliver any number of parts for a given design. I spoke with Rob Bodor about some of Proto Labs’ services and what they bring to the table.
Wong: How did Proto Labs get started, and what kind of services does it offer today?
Bodor: Proto Labs was founded as the ProtoMold Company by Larry Lukis in 1999, a self-professed computer geek and entrepreneur. Previously, Larry was the founder of a successful company that sought to design a better printer. He was frustrated by the time, cost, and manual labor involved in getting injection-molded parts, so he decided to develop software that automated the injection molding processes he needed to create his prototypes.
Read the complete article at Electronic Design.
An SL machine displays a final ABS-like part with supports.
There are many questions to consider when determining if your plastic parts should be 3D printed or machined. Can you test form, fit and function by using plastic-like materials or do you require engineering-grade thermoplastics? Do you need a broader selection of plastic materials during protoyping? Is your part geometry simple or complex? What are the cost considerations for both methods?
Our latest April Design Tip takes a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of both 3D printing and CNC machining. It aims to help you determine which method is better for your particular application. Continue reading