CAD files have a myriad of formats and corresponding file extensions (example: filename.extension.) With all those formats out there, what is best for you to use? CAD files for 3D printing generally fall into two categories: parametric files (equation driven files that are fully defined - i.e. a circle is actually a circle) and mesh files (made of points and triangles - i.e. a circle is thousands of tiny triangles.) Here's a great guideline. to help you get started.
RapidMade gets to work on many cool new product ideas. Given our love of dogs - we have a dog-friendly workplace, this project has been a favorite...
"OMDOG performance canine headgear started as a simple idea — to build a custom helmet for Charlie the Dog, who rides around Portland, Oregon in a cargo bicycle. When the decision was made to duplicate and improve the design, we contacted Rapid Made. They were responsive and excited about the project. They quickly 3D scanned our prototype, reverse engineered it, and made it easy for us to review and approve the CAD model before printing. Rapid Made helped us take an idea that started as a cardboard model made from a pizza box turn it into a viable product design. They're providing us with manufacturing options within our budget and well suited for our target market. We are extraordinarily grateful to have found Rapid Made!"
Last week, we lost a dear relative to cancer, so this story is encouraging.
Drexel University researchers, led by Dr. Wei Sun, are simulating tumors by 3D printing models they can more effectively study.
Eventually, Dr. Wei hopes to personalize treatment and perhaps even prevent cancer by using this approach to target research and treatment to specific patients by using their own cells.
If you're a regular reader of our blog posts, you know that we have an adorable three-legged rescue affectionately named Luke Triwalker. We continue to debate if and when it will make sense to create a prosthesis using 3D scanning and printing, so anytime I come across a similar situation, I enjoy learning more about the whys and hows associated with each case. One success story involves an Australian pup named Ziggy. Like Luke, this rescue had a mangled leg that couldn't be saved. Unfortunately, it became apparent to his owners, both veterinarian students, that Ziggy's remaining leg was not developing correctly. They
Despite corrective surgery, Ziggy ultimately developed arthritis which further hindered his mobility. It was then that they turned to 3D scanning and printing:
After recuperation, Ziggy is back up on all threes...
Cardiologist Wilson King, who works at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis has been using 3D printing to make models of patients’ actual hearts. By using medical images generated from techniques like Heart CT scans and Ultrasounds, King is able to render 3D models of his patients’ actual hearts. This ability enables doctors’ and surgeons’ to anticipate and prepare for diagnoses and surgeries. Additionally by making a model, doctors are able to physically practice placing devices into each individual’s heart. When patients have unique anatomy or particular heart conditions, 3D printing can be used to more comprehensively understand each case.
As RapidMade has reported before, another benefit is patient and physician education - explaining complex medical procedures is much easier when one can see and touch a replica - and what could be cooler than seeing and touching an exact copy of your own organ.
This case is jut another great example of why 3D scanning and printing have become so widely adopted in medicine.
If you want to reproduce an obsolete part, which 3D scanning hardware should you use? Would it be the same if you needed to model a bigger object? What about mapping out a large space? There are a variety of 3D scanners available to use, and as is often the case, each one has its advantages and disadvantages:
Scanner Application Resolution/Accuracy
Capture3D Parts, Components High
Artec Larger Items Medium
Lidar Mapping, Buildings Low
The Capture3D is ideal for industrial applications such as reverse engineering, image cataloging (digitization), product inspection or reproduction. Consider these impressive numbers:
Data Capture Rate 985,000 points/scan (0.3 sec per scan)
Resolution 0.110 mm
Accuracy 0.060 mm
Max Scan Size 2'x2'x2'
Interested? Learn how 3D Scanning can improve your business.
3D Printing, Manufacturing and Engineering
RapidMade's services now include:
- Simple static part design to fully automated mechanical and electrical equipment
- Design for prototyping and manufacture
- In-house prototyping capabilities for faster iterations and overnight customer feedback
- 2D and 3D drawings, tolerance and other manufacturing specifications, technology transfer and patent application documentation, equipment manuals, FDA and other compliance as well as other specialized engineering work
- 3D printing, quick-turn machining, traditional metal and plastic forming, short-run castings
- Thermoset and thermoplastic manufacturing, hard and soft metals, composites available
- Full-color concept models, functional prototypes, assembly and embedded electronics
- Quotes generally in under 24 hours, parts in days
- Production quantities ranging from one to tens of thousands
- A multitude of available manufacturing processes
- Expertise in selecting the right manufacturing process for you
- Personalized attention to detail and top quality customer service
- Tooling and part library for easy re-orders
- Extremely high accuracy 3D digitization of parts as a reproducible STL file
- Available reverse engineering to create fully defined parametric files and 2D dimensioned drawings
- Inspection of manufactured goods to identify deviation from the original design
- Full-color scans also available
- Highly accurate tools in days, not months - at a lower cost
- Patterns and tools available for all standard manufacturing processes: Injection molding, urethane casting, sand and investment casting, sheet metal stamping, plastic forming and much more
- Additional finishing capabilities available
- Full color 3D printing can be done as quickly as under 24 hours
- Print directly from renderings in CAD or BIM modeling software
- Great for architecture, store display and marketing customers
- Very fine feature detail and beautiful aesthetic quality
- A wide range of finish options including paint, powder coat, plating, media blast, tumbling and much more
- Clear coat and dyed plastic available for cost effective finishing of prototypes and manufactured goods
Artists and fashion designers have been some of the most enthusiastic early adopters of 3D scanning and printing. Some have used these to preserve or repair ancient artifacts, others to help the visually impaired "see" works of art. Many have pushed boundaries of their respective mediums by recognizing the technology's ability to digitize, manipulate and recreate existing objects, thus liberating them from the constraints of more traditional artistic techniques.
One such artist, Tabitha Nikolai, approached RapidMade to help her produce Dynamic Horizons, an art installation "billed as a pop-up show of wearable technology."
Willamette Week described the exhibition:
While we scan and reverse engineer a wide variety of objects,obsolete or replacement parts are popular, we especially enjoy working with artists and designers to produce unique and novel art work.
Renee Eaton, CEO, accepts Small Business Manufacturing Award on behalf of RapidMade
Yesterday, RapidMade was honored to received a 2015 Oregon Manufacturing Award by the Portland Business Journal. RapidMade's work in 3D printing, engineering services and additive manufacturing was showcased at the event.
Plastic surgery can be incredibly challenging, often seeming more like an art than a science. I've had four reconstructive surgeries - one which involved cartilage realignment - to correct the aftermath of surgery to remove skin cancer from my nose. - and I'm not done yet. So I can't imagine the difficulties involved in replacing missing cartilage by sculpting other bones to replicate it, but apparently that is exactly what is required to recreate children's ears. Obviously, if it has to be done, you want it to be done right the first time.
Until recently, inexperienced surgeons would develop their skill by carving a “bar of soap, carrot or apple,” according to this UW release — beta methods that were not incredibly accurate."
Now, researchers at the University of Washington are taking advantage of 3D printing to make silicone-based models produced from CT scans for surgical practice. Results suggest the approach is superior to traditional methods used to train medical students.
Since doctors already have access to the CT scans, maybe they should just print the cartilage directly. That would be my preference. In fact, I'm thinking of either getting a 3D printed nose ring to cover my scar and, or an insert to improve my breathing.
Since ISIS began destroying priceless artifacts in territory it controls, archaeologists and artists around the world have been scrambling to salvage and, or recreate the objects being annihilated. Recently RapidMade worked on one of these projects: Ryan Woodring's Decimate Mesh Art Exhibit.
Closer to the tragedy, in a bold and proactive counter offensive,
Using 3D cameras, the academics who've partnered with Unesco, plan to collect millions of digital images that will enable them to capture and reconstruct any piece that is destroyed. Their plan involves positioning "hundreds of the internet-enabled 3D cameras around important sites where they will take full photographic records from several different angles before uploading them to an open-source database online.
Given the wide-scale destruction wrought on the area to date, the project team recognizes that it is literally "up against the gun" to save as many antiquities as it can.
For years, museums like the Smithsonian have been creating digital libraries of their collections to catalog, study and share. But this effort is one of the first geared specifically to safeguard artifacts from defacement or destruction.
Here's a great white paper written by RapidMade Co-Founder and Advisor Mark Eaton:
Investing in 3-D printing technology can provide significant business advantages. Product development, customer value, manufacturing costs and product life cycle management can all be positively impacted by this technology. Determining where to make the investment requires careful consideration of the expected outcomes and thorough analysis of the business, processes or products that will be impacted by the investment.
For companies considering investing in 3-D printing, outsourcing to a reputable service bureau is a viable, cost-effective alternative that is less susceptible to changes in technology and materials than in-house ownership. The benefits derive from eliminating the initial capital cost of the equipment and the infrastructure setup cost to avoiding the operating costs of ownership and obsolescence issues relating to the rapid development of 3-D technology.
History of the 3-D Printing Market
The technology for 3-D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has existed since the 1980s. Although the additive manufacturing market took approximately 20 years to reach $1 billion, five years later in 2012, it had reached $2 billion. By 2013, consensus estimates by Gartner and Wohlers indicate it had reached $2.5 billion. A significant portion of this revenue was derived from 3-D printer sales, but estimates by PwC and ZPryme indicate that by February 2014, 67 percent of manufacturers who responded were already testing or using 3-D printing.
Despite advances in speed, reliability and material availability, 3-D printing has to this point still been largely used for prototyping, testing and tooling. Although rapid prototyping remains important, the pivot to printing more fully functional finished products and components is the direction that analysts see the sector heading.
For example, GE plans to mass produce 25,000 LEAP engine nozzles using additive manufacturing and already has $22 billion in commitments, said Dr. Mark Cotteleer of Deloitte Services in October 2014. Medical, dental and automotive are other sectors that report increasing use of 3-D printing to create fully functional parts.
Yet, in a recent December 2014 Gartner worldwide study, 60 percent of respondents cited the high acquisition and startup costs as delaying their investment in 3-D printers. Of those surveyed, 37 percent had just one 3-D printer within their organizations, with 18 percent owning 10 or more.
The average number of printers per organization was 5.4. One interesting finding was that respondents felt overwhelmingly that using a 3-D printer as part of their supply chain generally reduces the cost of existing processes, especially research and product development costs. The study concluded that those companies who were using the technology for product development were seeing a 4 percent improvement in costs.
Types of Technology and Materials
Despite the widely held mistaken belief that 3-D printers can "print anything," commercial manufacturers and product developers are still faced with the reality that there are many types of 3-D printing processes. Each process has speed, part tolerance and quality-related factors to consider.
Similarly, each 3-D printer is designed to work with a select set of materials. Most commercially available 3-D printers (often called professional or production printers) are designed to work with either plastic or metal. However in the case of plastic, the material or polymer will vary depending on the 3-D printing process, as will the mechanical, aesthetic and functional properties of the finished part.
UV-cured polymers behave differently to laser-sintered nylons. In the case of metals, parts printed on a laser-sintered machine will have different properties to those produced on an electron-beam or laser-melt style printer. Complexity further increases when the user has to consider ceramic, biomaterials and/or materials needing regulatory approval, which may require not only specialized materials, but printers with unique attributes.
Most materials, often termed feedstock, are pre-processed to create the liquid or powder that is ultimately reformed as a printed part. The cost of materials is a significant factor in the adoption of 3-D printing. Depending on the material type, prices can range from $35 to $600 per kilogram; specialty materials that have unique applications can be much higher.
In many cases, companies that supply 3-D printers try to control the material supply using, for example, prefilled cartridges or other means. Of late, this practice is beginging to change as new 3-D printer manufacturers enter the market, alternate material suppliers emerge and machine owners determine how to override printer settings. In fact, the study conducted by Roland Berger showed that experienced 3-D printer owners had effectively created their own supply chain, and this was driving down material costs.
Traditional Manufacturing Comparisons
Three-dimensional printing is still in the early adoption phase when it comes to the production of finished components and products. Speed of printing has yet to match the rates of typical mass production techniques. Companies such as GE, Siemens and Autodesk envisage 3-D printing being used in conjunction with or alongside traditional manufacturing techniques.
The rate at which 3-D printing will supplant traditional manufacturing techniques, such as CNC machining, injection molding or casting, is openly debated and will largely depend on advances in technology, materials and software.
But according to a recent Siemens report by Sandra Zistl, "Even though analysts at WohlersAssociates expect the rapid prototyping market to grow to more than $5 billion by 2020, 'Money will be made with manufacturing, not with prototypes,' forecasts Tim Caffrey, a consultant at Wohlers." This assessment is shared by Bernhard Langefeld, a machine construction expert at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and one of the authors of the study titled "Additive Manufacturing – A Game Changer for the Industry?"
What is also often a source of debate is the degree to which commercial manufacturers and product developers should own or outsource 3-D printing technology. Here we have to turn to traditional methods for evaluating capital investment and make-buy decisions. At the same time, we have to consider the risks of obsolescene, premature adoption of new technology, and the true cost of ownership.
In order to asses the capital investment or make-buy decision, we first must understand the expected financial and commercial returns from the decision, and to do that, we have to carefully consider the benefits of 3-D printing technology and where to apply it.
The capital cost of acquiring a professional or production 3-D printer varies tremendously. UV polymer printers vary from the mid-$30,000 range to $200,000 for the more complex machines. Metal-laser sintering machines will cost anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million-plus. It is also important to realize that just like traditional manufacturing, there will be additional costs for cleaning systems, dust collection, chamber gas-delivery and recovery systems, and for more sophisticated printers, complex material handling systems will be needed. Similarly, space and building requirements have to be considered, as do machine layout, material flow and cell design.
Three-dimensional printing is able to create a part directly from a digital file. However, this creates additional considerations because the ability to create an effective part is a function of the quality of the file; for example, is it an accurate representation of the desired finished part? Software that can manipulate the file to change the structure of the part or that can adapt the file to more effectively print the product is also available.
For each printer type, there is often a need for different types of software. The costs of this software must also be conisdered as part of the capital investment. Workflow software is also required when managing multiple files and parts if the production of these parts is to be efficient.
3-D Printing Applications
As this white paper indicates, there are many potential applications and markets for 3-D printing technology. In general, these can be
characterized into four primary categories; marketing and promotion, product development and design; production elements such as tooling, fixtures, products and components; and business services.
When considering an investment in 3-D printing, determining the application or intended purpose requires the investors to make a careful assessment of their existing business, process or product. Secondly, it requires a clear understanding of the expected outcomes from the investment; reduction in product development time, increased customization, lower supply chain costs, improved quality, new commercial opportunities and added customer value are some of the examples often cited for investment.
For example, the United States Postal Service estimates turning postal processing centers into 3-D printing hubs could generate $646 million in commercial packaging revenue. However, reaching such a conclusion requires analysis and investigation of multiple factors as well as a thorough understanding of available technology, materials and software. In these cases, businesses are turning to existing 3-D printing companies such as Stratasys, RapidMade and Baker 3D Solutions to help them navigate the decision process.
3-D Printing Total Cost of Ownership
Having identified the need for investment in 3-D printing, the business leader is most often faced with the make-buy decision (or in-house vs. outsource). A number of factors must be considered.
Traditional factors such as the protection of intellectual property and the critical nature of the product or component remain important. Of additional importance is the degree to which the 3-D printing technology itself is evolving. In 2009, the FDM patents expired, which led to the launch of many low-cost desktop copies. Similarly, in 2014, the SLS sintering patents expired, and this is expected to impact the cost of these printer types. Three-dimensional printer speeds are expected to increase fourfold over the next five years with companies such as Siemens stating that material feed rates will improve from 10 cm3/hr to 80 cm3/hr.
While many 3-D printing manufacturers market and advertise the simplicity of these machines, the reality is that print builds fail and need to be reprinted. Similar to traditional manufacturing processes, there are usually post-processes required to finish the product. There are waste streams that have to be managed; support material often has to be removed, and production has to be planned to ensure the printers run efficiently. Labor operating costs are similar to modern CNC machines, although these can be automated if volumes dictate.
For a typical commercial manufacturer or product developer who is producing products constructed of multiple materials and components, multiple 3-D printer types will be required. It is not uncommon to require multiples of the same machine because print rates sometimes result in daylong builds. The Gartner survey from December 2014 found that, for those owning 3-D printers, the average number of machines owned was 5.4. For a simple product development, for example, it is not uncommon to need three different types of 3-D printers.
This total cost of ownership analysis and the recommendation to buy versus make is very similar to the analysis that would been done for a traditional machine tool. What is the labor cost to operate; what are the waste factors; what are the utilization rates; what are the utility and space considerations; what are the maintenance costs, etc. Factors that will also need to be considered are the material limitations of each 3-D printer type, the software and the pre-processing that is required along with the associated costs.
In most cases, there will be fixed engineering and operating support costs that will have to be applied over the planned usage hours. Consumable costs will include materials as well as print heads, UV lamps, lasers, build plates, support material, part-cleaning solutions, chamber gas, etc.
For many situations, the option to buy from a "service bureau" will be more cost-effective than owning the technology. As with traditional manufacturing, a service bureau can specialize by using one type of 3-D printer or by better leveraging costs over aggregated production volumes.
As a cautionary note, it is important to select a reputable service bureau. Not all 3-D printers are built to the same quality and their ability to maintain build tolerance or part strength will vary. So it is important to understand how the part will be printed.
As with traditional manufacturing, service bureaus can be differentiated by those that have engineering expertise, a quality management system, a maintenance program and certified technicians compared to those that do not. Just like traditional manufacturing, there are print tolerance limitations that have to be considered in the design, and a service bureau with embedded engineering capabilities will be able to address these issues.
Consider also the importance of ensuring that the material supply chain is robust. Whether the decision is made to print In-house or through a service bureau, control of the material supply chain, both from a traceability and a material compliance viewpoint, is a consideration.
For mission critical or complex materials, organizations such as the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory can provide independent certification of the material. In general, because these are essentially created materials, their properties will approximate but not always replicate traditional materials. Having access to knowledgeable resources will help avoid common pitfalls.
Engineering Intern Erica Massaro views "Hatrean Goddess" replica, one of three Color Jet prints produced by RapidMade for Ryan Woodring's "Decimate Mesh" art exhibt.
Ryan Woodring's "Decimate Mesh" exhibit premiered last night at Duplex Art Gallery to a receptive crowd. The show features three 3D prints, a digital print on silk, and video footage of the destruction of ancient artifacts by ISIS in Mosul.
In a recent interview, the artist explains the irony that, by filming the destruction, ISIS exposes the artifacts to a much wider audience who would not otherwise be aware of their existence.
One of RapidMade's goals is to encourage kids, especially girls and minorities, to become interested in STEM. We recognize a widening skills gap in manufacturing and feel it is very important to show the upcoming generation that engineering and manufacturing careers can be interesting and lucrative. Today, Kris Beem and Adam McGee spoke about 3D printing (additive manufacturing) to girls participating in St. Mary's "Girls Get IT Summer Camp.
RapidMade recently hosted 13 middle school students and 2 chaperones from Catlin Gabel's 3D printing summer camp. The group learned how we scan objects and prep files and then watched prints being made on our Objet30 Pro, Fortus mc250 and Zprinter 650. Later they were shown how 3D prints are post processed and finished.
3D printing in full color can be challenging when color matching is a top priority. As RapidMade and our Portland neighbors at Laika can attest, "what you see" is not necessarily "what you get..." It takes expertise to ensure a client's color choices translate well from the CAD files to the Color Jet 3D printer.
Laika Entertainment, a stop-motion animation studio, has been using Color Jet printers to create characters for its feature films including Boxtrolls and ParNorman. By necessity, Tory Bryant, its in-house specialist, has learned to master the nuances of its various printers to maximize color control.
Her first lesson? The 3D printer likes blues and greens, flesh tones - not so much - which, given the work Laika does, is an obvious challenge. And so began a process that led them to develop a process to ensure quality control.
The following excerpt is courtesy of Creativeblog.com
Create a color-matching book:
This technique is difficult for anyone without direct access to a 3D printer...
Use colors to enhance details:
Manipulating the files prior to printing is strongly recommended.
Paint on the inside:
Use a multilayered technique to create "depth and detail."
The impact of thick and thin:
Recognize that darker colors are applied more deeply than lighter colors and factor this into your design.
Check the file format:
File compression can result in lost information which produces poor quality prints.
This is one reason you should select your printing provider with care. Many will simply print what you send them without first evaluating the print-readiness and quality of your files. RapidMade always reviews files and identifies problems before the print is made. In addition to color issues, part thickness can also be a problem that requires redesign.
We would also recommend you consider your printer choice. When the outcome matters, choose an industrial-grade machine like ours which has:
Full color, ceramic-like composite material
a turn-around time as little as a single day.
A full palette of over 390,000 colors
If you have a figurine or model you'd like to get printed in color, learn more.
Today, it is too easy for firms to become dangerously dependent upon their suppliers. Imagine that a key distributor goes out of business or a critical supplier stops making spare parts. What happens when your supplier has your tooling, and you need to modify it? When your machine breaks down, and you need to replace the part, you don’t want to learn repairs are no longer possible - orders are backing up; production is at a standstill, and you are stuck scrambling to find an alternative. Even if you find another supplier or new equipment, you’ve already spent considerable time and money, something every business and entrepreneur has little to spare.
Now imagine an insurance policy that guarantees that no matter how old the part or obscure the producer, you know that the part can be made and the job can get done with little delay. How? Scanning and converting parts and products into digital 3D images reduces your dependence on unresponsive suppliers.
Digitization allows companies to:
Create a catalog library or parts inventory.
Find spare or obsolete parts.
Reverse engineer an existing product or part.
Replicate a new product.
Rapidmade, renowned for its 3D printing, scanning services and engineering capabilities, efficiently and effectively renders these services for Fortune 50 and small start ups alike.
Why use us?
Professional 3D laser scanners are able to capture fine details and are not susceptible to issues with reflection, thickness, and color.
Our software can accurately smooth and sculpt the part allowing you to have consistent quality.
We ensure that there are no errors and can often print the part for assurance.
Rapidmade offers cost effective and competitive pricing schemes that include a quantity discount: having multiple parts scanned at the same time allows us to offer an inexpensive 3d scanning option.
Having a digital parts catalog liberates you from unresponsive suppliers. You insure your assets; why not ensure that your business is safe by digitizing critical parts?
Contact us to learn more.
The Crowdcow is a vivid example of 3D printing's ability to convey educational concepts in a concrete, understandable way that utilizes more of our senses. It allows one to literally capture his or her imagination. Many firms have asked RapidMade to help them educate clients, patients and students with hand-held replicas of body parts, industrial equipment and commercial products. The life-sized cow? That was "utterly" fun .
Anyone who has experienced facial scarring can appreciate the pain and embarrassment that often accompanies the disfigurement, no matter how minor. After four relatively simple surgeries to reduce the scarring and improve the shape of my nose, I am still sensitive about how it looks - but then I read the following story in 3dprint.com which described the medical miracle of a man who got a new face - and lease on life - through 3D printing. To say it put things into perspective would be an understatement...
Until recently, most prostheses have been functionally or cosmetically lacking. (I remember a patient who had lost her lower jaw to disease, and she had a basic plastic cup that just sat where her jaw had been). Now, 3D scanning, modeling and printing are achieving lifelike results that closely match the recipient's existing features.
Keith Londsdale is one such beneficiary of medical additive manufacturing. His son, Scott, worked with Jason Watson, a Reconstructive Scientist at Nottinghams' Queen's Medical Center, to create a prosthetic that incorporated Scott's features to ensure a familial likeness.
Imagine the day when such prostheses are bio printed using living skin cells.
Having recently endured wrist surgery on New Year's Eve, I was pleased to see this story (and not just because RapidMade prints 3D models)..
Doctors have again turned to 3D modeling and printing to assist them in a challenging surgery. This time, it was to fix a wrist injury which, unlike mine, couldn't be routinely repaired. A university student broke his hamate bone and fourth Metacarpel - a complication that created difficulties.
Dr. Rong's team took images from the patient's CT scans and used them to print the model pictured above. Having an exact replica of the broken bones, the surgeon was able to plan the surgery in advance which reduced operating room and anesthesia times. Shorter surgeries save hospitals money and less anesthesia improves patient outcomes.
Personally, I'm looking forward to widespread adoption of this technology... My own surgery took longer than planned because my wrist was worse than expected - there were bone fragments that had to be removed. As a result, the anesthesiologist had to fully sedate me, and I ended up spending New Year's Eve in the hospital - not a Happy start to 2015, so while I hope to never go through a similar procedure again, I'm heartened by the adoption of 3D printing.