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.
- 3D print preparation
- 2D to 3D conversions
- Design for manufacturing conversions
- Contract design work
- Custom design
- Product design
- Conceptual design
- Proof-of-concept design
- Design for manufacturing
- Stress analysis
- Motor/actuator sizing and selection
- File Conversions
- Existing part to 3D CAD
- 3D scan to parametric CAD model
- Manufacturing drawings
- Machine layouts
- User manuals
- On-site installation
Our friends at Direct Dimensions in Owings Mills, Maryland, will be "creating a 3D CAD model" of the Roberto Clemente Bridge in our hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The resulting files will then be used to create 3D prints of the bridge for an upcoming RAPID + TCT show being held in Pittsburgh in May.
Pittsburgh, long recognized for its sports accomplishments, is becoming well known as a Center of Excellence in Additive Manufacturing as well.
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!"
Do you have the tools you need to support your customers? Can we help?
At RapidMade we specialize in providing fast response solutions to your one-off and low volume part needs. We use advanced 3D scanning, printing, engineering and manufacturing to help you solve those difficult problems.
Highly customized, unique and complex parts are a specialty. We have the engineering team to help you design.
Molds & Tooling
Replacement tooling and mold making? Using 3D technology we can turn that new tool around fast.
We work with your team to select the right material and technology to suit your needs.
Contact us today; let’s see how we can help you:
Phone: 503 943 2781 | Email: email@example.com
3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing Glossary
The terms 3D printing and additive manufacturing are used interchangeably. They refer to a group of new technologies and processes that allow parts, models, and (in some cases) assemblies to be built three dimensionally.
Additive manufacturing is often best explained by how it differs from other types of production. Metal machining is a common and proven form of subtractive manufacturing: you start with a block of metal and cut away material until you are left with the desired design. Additive manufacturing, on the other hand, builds from a 3D model and only adds material where it is needed.
This is done by slicing a CAD modeled object into thin layers, sometimes as thin as 16 microns (0.0006in), and building each layer in succession. This unique manner of creating things allows for amazing new designs and geometries not previously possible with traditional manufacturing. For instance:
- Parts can now be made that have incredibly complex internal structures that cut out weight while maintaining structural integrity
- Many design constraints (like requiring draft and undercuts) that limit traditional manufacturing are obsolete
- Additively manufactured parts can be post-processed with traditional processes to improve functionality or aesthetics
- Original masters for traditional casting processes can be produced easily and quickly
- Interlocking parts can be created without the need for assembly
3D printing is currently a hot topic. It's a rapidly growing market expected to reach $20 billion by 2020. Deemed “The New Manufacturing Revolution” by The Economist and Wired, additive manufacturing will dramatically affect the way things are made in the near future. Some experts believe it will help reinvigorate American manufacturing, while others believe it will democratize production of goods and every house will have its own 3D printer.
Whatever the future holds, see the reverse side of this sheet for a brief glossary of terms that will help you navigate the worlds of additive manufacturing.
FDM: short for fused deposition modeling (tradmarked by Stratsys) and also known as fused filament fabrication (FFF). See: material extrusion, thermoplastic
SLS: short for selective laser sintering. See: powder bed fusion
DMLS: short for direct metal laser sintering. See: powder bed fusion
SLA: short for stereolithography apparatus. See: vat photopolymerization
Types of additive manufacturing
Vat photopolymerization: this process builds parts by using light to selectively cure layers of material in a vat of photopolymer.
Material jetting: this process builds parts by depositing small droplets of photopolymer (similar to an inkjet printer) which are then cured by exposure to light.
Binder jetting: this process creates objects by squirting a binding agent into a powdered material.
Material extrusion: this process creates objects by extruding thin filaments of thermoplastic to build layers. It is often likened to a tube of toothpaste or a syringe.
Powder bed fusion: this process selectively melts fine layers of powdered plastic or metal into solid objects using a laser.
Sheet lamination: this process builds parts by trimming sheets of material and binding them together in layers.
Directed energy deposition: This process builds or repairs parts by using focused thermal energy to fuse materials as they are deposited on a substrate.
thermoplastic: plastic that softens when heated and solidifies when cooled
photopolymer: a liquid plastic that hardens permanently when exposed to light
Material Strength Flexibility Surface Finish Feature Detail
Zcorp Composite1 ★★★☆☆☆ ★☆☆☆☆☆ ★★★☆☆☆ ★★★★☆☆
FDM Plastic ★★★★☆☆ ★★★☆☆☆ ★☆☆☆☆☆ ★★☆☆☆☆
Objet Plastic2 ★★☆☆☆☆ ★★★★★★ ★★★★★★ ★★★★★★
SLS Plastic ★★★★☆☆ ★★★★☆☆ ★★★☆☆☆ ★★★☆☆☆
Printed Metal ★★★★★☆ ★★☆☆☆☆ ★★☆☆☆☆ ★★☆☆☆☆
DMLS Metal ★★★★★★ ★★☆☆☆☆ ★★★☆☆☆ ★★★☆☆☆
SLA Plastic ★★★☆☆☆ ★★★☆☆☆ ★★★★☆☆ ★★★★☆☆
1 ZCorp printers are one of the few processes that can create colored objects and can even reproduce photographs and modeling textures
2 Objet can print rigid (Shore D) and soft (Shore A) materials, giving it a flexibility range up to the maximum
Advances in 3D Additive Manufacturing technologies are far too often attributed to advances in the actual 3D printers themselves, but the machines are only 1/3 of the equation.
Often times new, innovative materials and software can have an even more profound impact on available products in the industry, or in this case, any industry.
The U.S. army just invested $855,000 in multiple projects around the development of "4D printing" software. Don't let the name fool you. The structures are created using the same 3D printing techniques on the market today, but this software allows for fundamental alterations in part design that allow the final construction to be completed after the part has been created.
By making parts out of hundreds to thousands of little, jointed components we can take advantage of new properties resulting from complicated assemblies. Additionally, we can now create objects that would have originally been too large for the relatively small beds of 3D printers.
These complicated assemblies would be far too labor intensive and costly to manufacture using any other technology available today.
Useful examples would include the dress in the video which behaves differently as we vary the size and placement of the joints throughout the dress's structure. We could also create very large objects previously compressed which snap into place to create a rigid, permanent structure much larger than the compressed one.
A lofty goal of this software would be to fabricate large objects on site in remote locations, like on an air craft carrier or on a colony in space where real estate for such equipment may be at a premium.
The beauty of Additive Manufacturing is that the users see new capabilities such as 4D Printing and come up with their own amazing applications.
3D Systems (DDD) just announced their first full color, yet flexible material system, the Projet 4500. Based on the video, it seems pretty impressive, but like all new product announcements from 3D Systems, we don't get much real information.
Currently there are only two full color printers on the market today, the Projet 660 and 860 (formerly ZCorp 650 and 850 prior to DDD's acquisition of the company.) Due to their powder bed and HP print head technology, the systems squirt varying amounts of cyan, magenta, yellow, black and clear binder into each layer to create a color palette of almost 400,000 colors. The powder is polymerized to adhere together when the binder is infused, but is really nothing more than glorified plaster of paris.
Afterward, parts are generally infused with cyanoacrylate or Epoxy to brighten colors and add strength. The final parts are tough, but have very little elasticity - under 1% elongation at break. That means the parts are very brittle upon high impacts and important design features that require flexibility, like snap fits or springs, do not work.
Although the Projet 4500's 10''x10''x8'' build chamber is significantly smaller than it's older brothers (660 is 50% larger at 15''x10''x8'' and 860 is about 240% larger at 20''x15''x9'',) the printer boasts a palette of over 1 million colors and the ability to produce flexible parts. Layer thickness of .1mm (.004'') and build speed (some of the best in the industry) seems fairly consistent with all the three printers.
By far the largest game changer is the ability to make flexible parts, because all other systems on the market today that make plastic with flexibility are limited to monochromatic or white color. This may be a feature that is backwards compatible with the 660 and 860, though, since the concept behind the 4500, namely squirting colored binder into a bed of white powder and curing it, has apparently remained the same in the new system.
The real change here may just be in the release of new materials to put inside the printer: a polymer powder, new binders, and improved curing infiltrants.
Whether full color flexible materials are available for all full color Projets or just the new 4500, the increase in flexibility and therefore durability can make powder-binder machines some of the most desirable in the coming years.
RapidMade, Inc.'s CEO and head of the Baltimore Sales office just attended the Smithsonians Institutes's X3D Conference in Washington. The SI has been a trailblazer in applying 3D printing and 3D scanning to digitally save and make replicas of priceless artifacts and artwork to ensure that future generations will always have access to these treasures. Below is her account of the event.
Yesterday’s presentations at the Smithsonian SERIOUSLY AMAZING took me back to early 2011 when I watched the Egyptian uprising on TV with a mix of anticipation and dread. I had just visited Cairo in late 2010 and had the great fortune to see many of its treasures first hand. Watching the events unfold, I realized that I might be one of the last outsiders privileged to see them for some time… or ever if they were destroyed or stolen.
Smithsonian SERIOUSLY AMAZING reminded me that the ability to capture artifacts’ images using 3D scanning techniques can’t prevent destruction or theft, but can allow the pieces to be retained for indefinite viewing and study and, with the advent of Smithsonian X 3D, an on-line vehicle, enable anyone from anywhere to see them in a highly interactive way. For many, Paul Debevec’s keynote address was the conference highlight: the journey of this industry pioneer began with him taking multiple photos of his car from every possible angle and manipulating them to make it do computerized stunts. Along the way, he analyzed the influence of light on captured images to evaluate its impact on scanning. And while he is best known to laypersons for creating the special effects for Avatar, those in the field believe his best achievements are still to come (sorry for sounding like a cheap movie trailer)!
Understanding how 3D scanning works doesn't detract from seeing it in action. Curators demonstrated Smithsonian X 3D’s capabilities by sharing images of the Cosmic Buddha, Wright Flyer, Gunboat Philadelphia, Killer Whale Hat and Cerro Ballena (Whale Hill). The scans allowed us to see these artifacts in ways not possible in the museum.
- Clicking on “hot spots” let us read narratives that further highlighted significant points.
- Presenters manipulated the images to show details up close or in a different light.
- The Cosmic Buddha’s stories were color-coded and laid out flat, so its stories literally unfolded.
- The Wright Flyer was dismantled and explained in detail.
- The Gunboat Philadelphia was reconstructed to illustrate what it looked like before it sank.
- The Killer Whale Hat and Cerro Ballena presentations reinforced one key advantage that 3D scanning has over traditional museum displays – often the museum doesn’t possess the artifacts it wants to share. Archaeologists at the Cerro Ballena dig had days to complete their work. Scanning the pristine site allowed them to collect volumes a data in a short time frame. Similarly, reproducing the Killer Whale Hat with 3D scans and prints lets us see and touch it while the original remains with its owners, the Tlingit Dakl’weidi clan.
Thursday’s agenda continued the discussion by considering future applications that experts suggest include efforts to expand and “scale up” scanning and printing.
In keeping with the interactive nature of the event, the Tech Gallery exhibitors showed off body scanning booths, 3D printers, CAT scan applications and more. It also prompted the inevitable debate that arises among groups of art patrons... one’s treasure is another’s trash… when a colleague called the customized 3D prints of people a collection of junk, I felt compelled as the owner of a 3D printing company to offer another perspective. That’s what I love about 3D printing. It’s personal. It lets each of us decide what is important to us and allows us to create it. At the end of every
soccer season, I love creating personalized ornaments for my daughter and her team mates. And although they are not as elaborate as the equipment, architectural or artistic models we make, to me, they are art. In the end, that’s what is so great about 3D scanning and printing. It is the access it provides to anyone interested enough to try it.