3D printing is an additive manufacturing method, which is to say that it involves the addition of material which was developed for rapid prototyping. Additive manufacturing is a method which lets you transform a 3D file into a physical object layer by layer. Such an object can be made from plastics, resins, metals, wood, even paper etc…
In this large family of additive manufacturing there is 3D printing, most often compared to with wire laying with 3D printers that we find more and more accessible for individuals.
The 3D printer produces the prototypes stratum by stratum, by deposit of wire on a plate and progressively rises by accumulating the strata layer by layer.
The creation of a 3D file is the preliminary of all types of 3D printing or additive manufacturing. This file is produced using computer-aided design (CAD) software. It gives information to the printer or production machine about where the material needs to be added. This step is Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM).
Additive manufacturing procedure
3D printing allows a more direct relationship between design and production because the rendering is quite fast and allows to validate or not constraints, aesthetics, size, thickness, … The object created is often called a model or a prototype, but it can also be the final object. Indeed, additive manufacturing can be one of the only means of producing certain elements such as one-piece functional hinges because other manufacturing processes would not be able to achieve it. Some designers, for example, use powder sintering for some of their creations.
Process for rapid prototyping
3D printing is associated with a 3D printer which can be more or less technologically developed (classic, tripod, multi-material …), but which is very different from the machines we have. In addition, the uses of these objects made by 3D printer are very different, and their technologies are very different.
Rapid prototyping also uses additive manufacturing technologies but with much larger volumes and specific printers. With a 3D printer, the platform remains in the same position throughout the production process while the nozzle is mobile. This will gradually rise between each layer. In contrast, prototyping machines (as much for stereolithography or powder sintering) there is no nozzle but rather a laser which polymerizes the material. In addition, this is a mobile platform and the work surface remains at the same level.
It is this last process which is used for the realization of prototypes / models within our company. The technologies used are notably Stereolithography, Powder Sintering and now HP Multi Jet fusion:
As previously announced, to use this process, it is necessary to go through a 3D file obtained by CAD using 3D modeling software. Since we do not have a design office, we are waiting for you to produce your request. Once this file is received, in .STEP, .STL, .IGES or. CatPart, it is processed via our software to see their appearance, wall thickness, volume and size. Thereafter it is cut into slices (= sliced with software called “slicer”) and depending on the technology used, construction supports can be generated. All of this information is then transmitted to the machine which produces the requested prototype layer by layer.
The 3D printer uses the information from the 3D file as well as the information we have added (including construction media if necessary) to create very thin layers of material. Once all the successive layers have been created, the Additive Manufacturing process is considered complete. Once this work is finished, it is necessary to clean them. Stereolithography parts are devoid of their construction supports and cleaned with acetone. As for the models in powder sintering and Multi Jet Fusion HP, they are powdered and sandblasted. This is followed by the application of the desired finish.
As you will have understood, depending on the 3D printing process chosen and used, the procedure differs as much in the manufacturing process as in their cleaning, finishing or use.
Technologies of 3d rapid prototyping
Stereolithography needs to produce the prototype in a resin tank to make these strata, and powder sintering needs a Polyamide powder tank for the particles to polymerize with each other.
Our technologies are often equated with 3D printing, because this type of production is the best known of all, and the term makes sense: “we print your ideas in volume”.
3D printing is a process that is used with all types of materials and is not exclusive to rapid prototyping. There is 3D printing with wax, metals and alloys, glass, wool, food, polyamide powder, ceramic, concrete, alumina, etc.
3D printing is a new production method for all types of objects.
Piece created with 3D printing
Our company Axis is specialized in the realization of prototypes and models
We use adapted and specific technologies for rendering as close as possible to your needs, on the aesthetic, dimensional and technical levels.