Whilst 3D printing doesn’t involve tooling and can ignore conventional design rules, it does use a considerable amount of time and power, both in the production of parts and their finishing. These issues become significant when 3D printing is used for manufacture, as time and cost need to be minimised in any production process. This is the subject of Mike’s presentation at the forthcoming TCT + personalize conference at the NEC on October 2nd 2014.
For example, laser sintered metals (and some plastic 3D printing processes) require support structures to be built under every downward facing surface. These can be time consuming and costly to build and remove, and some can be designed out. All 3D printing systems are limited by the size of their build chambers and the economics of some processes, like SLS, are affected by the way the space in the chamber is utilised. If parts are designed to tessellate efficiently in the chamber, the individual part costs can be dramatically reduced. The finishing of 3D printed parts also remains a major issue, as good surface finishes can double the cost of the component.
Mike’s presentation will look at the most suitable processes for manufacture and explore the strengths, limits and appropriate design rules for each one. The presentation is based on a white paper that will be published at the end of September that explores the design rules for 3D printing as a manufacturing process in some detail. As far as we know, it will be the first publication to look at ways of maximising the efficiency of these exciting new technologies as manufacturing tools.
For more information on the TCT show, click here.