THE TOP 10 FEATURES OF MAKERBOT METHOD

So, you’re looking for an industrial 3D printer at a desktop price. Sounds like wishful thinking, but that’s exactly what MakerBot’s newest professional 3D printer was engineered to be. Here is the unique collection of features that set MakerBot METHOD apart from the rest.

1. 360° OF 110°C

CIRCULATING HEATED CHAMBER

Many desktop 3D printers use heated build plates to try and regulate their environment and prevent warping on the print bed. This improves adhesion to the build plate for the first layer and
 that’s about it. METHOD uses the patented Circulating Heated Chamber to rapidly warm the entire build chamber up to 110°C providing optimal print conditions from first layer to last. The result is a degree of dimensional accuracy typically reserved for industrial 3D printers (±0.007 in), at the base layer and everywhere else.

2. TWO TOOLHEADS. INFINITE POSSIBILITIES.

DUAL PERFORMANCE EXTRUDERS

When it comes to FDM 3D printing, the toolhead or extruder is one of the most important features. Based on an industrial-grade design from Stratasys, METHOD’s extruder was designed from the ground up with the professional in mind. With an all-new lengthened thermal core, dual drive gears with 19:1 gear ratio of torque, and MakerBot’s industry-leading intelligent sensor suite, METHOD comes with significantly improved print quality and speed.

With two of these extruders standard on METHOD and METHOD X, you can now print with dissolvable supports like PVA and SR-30 allowing you to design AND print real world production parts with the utmost complexity.

3. THE ULTIMATE OPEN MATERIAL PLATFORM

PRINT METALS, COMPOSITES, AND POLYMERS ALL ON ONE MACHINE

Finding the right desktop 3D printer for your application can have a lot to do with materials. Sure most 3D printers claim to be able to print everything these days – from basic PLA to ABS and more. Material compatibility on METHOD goes beyond lofty claims. With purposely engineered features like a circulating heated chamber keeping the print at up to 110°C throughout the print, and dual modular extruders acting as purpose-built tool-heads for each material group, even the most warp-prone materials like ABS come out with guaranteed dimensional accuracy. That’s something you won’t find on any other desktop 3D printer – go ahead and look, we’ll wait.

METALS | COMPOSITES | POLYMERS

4. BUILT-IN AUTO-CALIBRATION

AUTO-CALIBRATION FOR DUAL EXTRUDERS

One of the dirty little secrets of dual-extrusion 3D printers is the frustration that can come with the manual calibration of the extruders on most desktop machines. METHOD automates this process so you can focus more on product design and less on maintenance.

5. DRY FILAMENT IN ANY ENVIRONMENT

DRY-SEALED MATERIAL BAYS AND DRY MATERIAL MODE

3D printing in even a remotely humid environment can negatively impact print quality, not to mention compromise reliability and part dimensional accuracy. In short, humidity is not the friend of FDM 3D printers. METHOD utilizes dual material bays that are sealed from the outside environment to protect your filament from exposure to damaging humidity. That, combined with desiccant in each Smart Spool, a protective mylar storage bag that comes with each Smart Spool, and the new Material Drying mode that allows you to revive old spools, allows METHOD to work reliably and accurately from the lab to factory floor.

6. AUTOLOADING FOR QUICK MATERIAL CHANGE

SMART ASSIST MATERIAL LOADING

Material loading on 3D printers can be a pain. METHOD’s material loading system is designed to take complexity and frustration out of the equation. Just drop the Smart Spool into the Dry Sealed Material Bays located on the front of the printer, and feed the filament tip into the slot, close the drawer and the printer loads the filament all the way up and into the extruders so that it’s ready to print.

7. LESS FRAME FLEX

ULTRA-RIGID METAL FRAME

Printer body stiffness translates directly into part reliability and precision. We’ve taken a page out of the Stratasys playbook by implementing a heavy-duty, all metal architecture utilizing die-cast and extruded aluminum that extends from the bottom of the printer to the top.

8. PRINT FROM ANYWHERE AT ANYTIME.

MAKERBOT CLOUDPRINT

MakerBot was one of the first 3D printer companies to create a connected experience with WIFI connectivity, on-board camera monitoring, and print-from-anywhere control. Now, METHOD is MakerBot’s first fully-connected professional 3D printer, bringing added benefits like real-time filament information, humidity monitoring, and team 3D printing collaboration through printer sharing and analytics from anywhere. All of these benefits are accessible remotely through the MakerBot CloudPrint browser-based app, whether your printer is in the lab or in another time zone.

9. PRECISION LEVELED WITH QUICK PART RELEASE

AUTO-CALIBRATION FOR DUAL EXTRUDERS

The build surface is another crucial element in FDM 3D printing. Whether you’re printing in ABS, Nylon, or just PLA, an uneven surface can lead to a warped print. METHOD combines two elements to create a unique solution. First is an aluminum base plate, machined and factory-calibrated for extreme flatness. Second is a spring steel build plate that magnetically conforms to the base plate via a dozen high-strength magnets. This not only provides flatness, but also makes print removal a breeze. Just pick up the build plate and flex it to pop the print off.

The steel build plate also quickly heats to the temperature of the chamber to give it extra hold throughout the print.

10. SWAP AND LOCKED EXTRUDERS

LOCKING EXTRUDER HARNESS

MakerBot developed one of the first interchangeable extruders for the desktop FDM 3D printer market with the Smart Extruder. With METHOD, that concept has taken a step forward. The ability to quickly swap the extruders makes METHOD a growing platform with purpose-built, interchangeable hardware while allowing for simple, tool-free maintenance. Unlike the previous generation of MakerBot 3D printers, METHOD’s extruders are securely locked into place with a latch mechanism – minimizing extruder wobble and contributing to METHOD’s unique dimensional accuracy spec. 

Model Extruders
Model 1 | Model 1XA | Model 1C | LABS GEN 2

Support Extruders
Model 2 | Model 2XA

Learn more about MakerBot METHOD at 3dprint.cadcam.com.my/makerbot/method/

Download a FREE ROI guide of 3D Printing for Advanced Manufacturing Applications and learn how calculating ROI can help determine the right manufacturing application for your business. Download the 23-page guide >

Get your free sample part and see and see how METHOD prints with the quality and precision of industrial 3D printing at one-third the cost. Get the METHOD XLR Connector sample part >

INTRODUCING: METHOD X, A MANUFACTURING WORKSTATION

MAKERBOT LAUNCHES METHOD X, BRINGS REAL ABS 3D PRINTING TO MANUFACTURING

BROOKLYN, NY—August 1, 2019— MakerBot, a global leader in 3D printing, announces the launch of METHOD X, a manufacturing workstation engineered to challenge traditional manufacturing with real ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) material, a 100°C chamber, and Stratasys SR-30 soluble supports to deliver exceptional dimensional accuracy and precision for complex, durable parts. METHOD X is capable of printing real ABS that can withstand up to 15°C higher temperatures, is up to 26% more rigid, and up to 12% stronger than modified ABS formulations used on desktop 3D printer competitors.1 Real ABS parts printed on METHOD X have no warping or cracking that typically occurs when printing modified ABS on desktop platforms without heated chambers.

Desktop 3D printer manufacturers attempt to get around part deformation that occurs, due to the high shrinkage rate of the material, by using a heated build plate in combination with altered ABS formulations that are easier to print but compromise thermal and mechanical properties. MakerBot Precision ABS has a heat deflection temperature of up to 15°C higher than competitors’ ABS, which are modified to make material printable without a heated chamber. With METHOD X, the 100°C Circulating Heated Chamber significantly reduces part deformation while increasing part durability and surface finish

The MakerBot METHOD X combines industry expertise and technologies from Stratasys¼ (Nasdaq: SSYS)—the worldwide leader in industrial 3D printing—with MakerBot’s accessibility and ease of use to provide professionals with an industrial 3D printer at a disruptive price point.

MakerBot ABS for METHOD has excellent thermal and mechanical properties similar to ABS materials used for injection molding applications—making it ideal for a wide range of applications, including end-use parts, manufacturing tools, and functional prototypes. A 100°C Circulating Heated Chamber provides a stable print environment for superior Z-layer bonding—resulting in high-strength parts with superior surface finish. With the MakerBot METHOD X, engineers can design, test, and produce models and custom end-use parts with durable, production-grade ABS for their manufacturing needs.

Also new is the availability of Stratasys SR-30 material for easy and fast support removal. METHOD X is the only 3D printer in its price class that uses SR-30—enabling unlimited design freedom and the ability to print unrestricted geometries, such as large overhangs, cavities, and shelled parts. The combination of SR-30 and MakerBot ABS is designed to provide outstanding surface finish and print precision.

“When we initially launched METHOD, we broke the price-to-performance barrier by delivering a 3D printer that was designed to bridge the technology gap between industrial and desktop 3D printers. This made industrial 3D printing accessible to professionals for the first time. Since then, we have shipped hundreds of printers and received positive feedback from a number of our customers on the precision and reliability of the machine,” said Nadav Goshen, CEO, MakerBot. “With METHOD X, we are taking a step further to revolutionize manufacturing. METHOD X was created for engineers who need true ABS for production-ready parts that are dimensionally-accurate with no geometric restrictions. METHOD X delivers industrial-level 3D printing without compromising on ABS material properties and automation in a new price category.”

Functional Prototypes
Manufacturing Tools
End-use parts

Engineered as an automated, tinker-free industrial 3D printing system, METHOD X includes industrial features such as Dry-Sealed Material Bays, Dual Performance Extruders, Soluble Supports, and an Ultra-Rigid Metal Frame. METHOD X’s automation and industrial technologies create a controlled printing environment so professionals can design, test, and iterate faster. The lengthened thermal core in the performance extruders are up to 50% longer than a standard hot end to enable faster extrusion, resulting in up to 2X faster print speeds than desktop 3D printers.2

These key technologies—combined with MakerBot ABS for METHOD—are designed to help engineers achieve dimensionally-accurate, production-grade parts at a significantly lower cost than traditional manufacturing processes. Engineers can print repeatable and consistent parts, such as jigs, fixtures, and end-effectors, with a measurable dimensional accuracy of ± 0.2mm (± 0.007in).3

METHOD X can be used with MakerBot’s lines of Precision and Specialty Materials, including MakerBot PLA, MakerBot TOUGH, MakerBot PETG, MakerBot PVA, MakerBot ABS, and SR-30, with more to come.

MakerBot METHOD X’s automated and advanced features provide users with a seamless workflow to help them optimize their design and production processes. The MakerBot METHOD X is one of the most intelligent 3D printers on the market, with 21 onboard sensors that help users monitor, enhance, and print their projects, including RFID chips, temperature sensing, humidity control, material detection, and more. The METHOD platform provides a seamless CAD to part workflow, with Solidworks, Autodesk Fusion 360 and Inventor plug-ins and support for over 30 types of CAD files, helping users turn their CAD files to parts quicker.

The METHOD platform has been tested by MakerBot for over 300,000 hours of system reliability, subsystem, and print quality testing.4

To learn more about MakerBot Method X, visit 3dprint.cadcam.com.my/makerbot/method/

Looking for our education offerings? Contact our MakerBot education specialist.


1 Based on internal testing of injection molded specimens of METHOD X ABS compared to ABS from a leading desktop 3D printer competitor. Tensile strength testing was performed according to ASTM D638 and HDT B testing according to ASTM D648.
2 Compared to popular desktop 3D printers when using the same layer height and infill density settings. Speed advantage dependent upon object geometry and material.
3 0.2 mm or ± 0.002 mm per mm of travel (whichever is greater). Based on internal testing of selected geometries.
4 Combined total test hours of METHOD and METHOD X (full system and subsystem testing) expected to be completed around shipping of METHOD X.

Introducing the Studio System 2

With a simplified, two-step process, the Studio System 2 is the easiest way to print complex, high-quality metal parts in your office.

Studio System 2

With a simplified, two-step process that eliminates the need for solvent debinders, The Studio System 2 packs all the benefits of the original Studio System – no hazardous metal powders or lasers, no dedicated operators, no special facilities need – into a package that’s more accessible than ever before and that produces even higher-quality parts.

Origins of the Studio System

When it was introduced in 2016, the Studio System brought high-quality metal 3D printing to the office environment. Where legacy powder bed fusion systems had cost upwards of a million dollars, required significant training, specialized facilities, and included safety hazards like loose metal powder and lasers, the Studio System allowed engineers, for the first time, to easily print metal parts in-house.

“Now, the next generation in office-friendly metal 3D printing has arrived.”

The Studio System 2 takes ease and accessibility to the next level while delivering a wider range of possible geometries and significant improvements to part quality.

What’s new?

Easy Two-Step Process (No Solvents)

The original Studio System was designed from the ground up to deliver an easier and more accessible metal 3D printing solution for office environments. The Studio System 2 takes this a step further by eliminating the solvent debind phase entirely — unlocking a drastically simpler and nearly hands-off, two-step workflow. Parts no longer need to be batched before debinding, and then batched again before sintering. Instead, printed parts are placed directly into the furnace where they are debound and sintered in a single, customized sintering cycle.

With no solvent debind phase, the Studio System 2 process also eliminates odors and environmental health and safety (EHS) concerns related to solvent debinding, making it even easier for users to get up and running. Without the need for solvent debinding, users enjoy reduced part costs related to consumables, a reduced system footprint, and easier installation.

[Two-Step Process] With the Studio System 2, printed parts are placed directly in the furnace. No need for solvent debind.

High Quality Parts

Based on data from thousands of prints, Desktop Metal’s team of engineers and material scientists have made significant advancements to Studio System 2 part quality.

The Studio System 2 features redesigned hardware, including a heated build chamber, new standard and high-resolution printheads and an improved sintering furnace, all of which add up to enhanced processing capabilities that enable the new two-step process. These hardware upgrades are combined with an all-new material system and optimized print and sinter profiles in Fabricate, resulting in parts with significantly improved surface finish on support-facing surfaces and reduced stair stepping on side walls.

Reliability and Part Success

Designed to consistently deliver high-performance metal parts, Studio System 2 minimizes the trial and error common in alternative 3D printing processes, enabled by new print profiles and a re-engineered interface layer material for more even shrinkage during sintering and increased part success across an array of geometries.

Updated print profiles

Built in print profiles make part creation as easy as a few clicks. For users looking for greater control, the Studio System 2 also offers over 90 parameters for fine-tuning, making it easy to tailor parts to your exact needs.

The Studio System 2 features a new gyroid infill structure which offers a number of benefits to both the build process and part quality. This high-strength isotropic gyroid infill allows lightweight parts while retaining part strength.

Most importantly, the gyroid structure allows for efficient thermal debinding, which is critical to the sintering success of any part and results in faster printing and faster overall processing of thicker geometries.

Processing time savings for thicker geometries:


Explore more about the Desktop Metal Studio System 2

Talk to our engineer if you need its technical specifications.

3D-PRINT YOUR OWN WORLD CUP TROPHY

The widely-loved sports game – FIFA World Cup 2018 has come to a perfect end in July. With the 2018 FIFA World Cup taken place in Russia, fanatic sports fans around the world are getting faces painted and flags waving in support of their home country or favourite team. While sports fans celebrate the triumph of the winning team in all unique ways, now you can 3D-print your own FIFA World Cup Trophy to commemorate the glorious victory.

The model is based off of the event’s iconic trophy, called the “FIFA World Cup Trophy”, first introduced in 1974 and circulated until present which depicts two human figures holding up the Earth.

With a bit of post-handling, you can make this looks like a read World Cup trophy. If you want to keep the spirit of this international tournament alive with a 3D-printed trophy, keep reading to find out what you need and how to build it.

The printed concept is less expensive and has a very solid touch from the FDM technology using 3D Espresso. It does not require any support material in the process and as the printing bed is limited, the trophy is printed in three different STL files, which includes the globe, the body and the base.

 

  

 

Aside from 3D printer and the STL files, there are a few more things you’ll need to make this symbolic trophy. Here’s what you need to complete this project:

  • Hot glue gun
  • Metallic spray paint

With all materials ready, the process started with printing all three parts using PLA materials. At a printing speed of 30mm/s along with 0.2mm layer thickness, it took approximately 28 hours to complete printing all parts. The globe, body and base were then assembled using hot glue gun to see the trophy fully come into shape.

To enhance its aesthetic, the replica was painted in gold metallic paint followed by two signature green lines at its base to resemble the authentic FIFA World Cup Trophy. The trophy was placed into the Memmert oven of about 30°C to dry the paint out. The drying process took around 10 minutes and the trophy is ready to shine.

The FIFA World Cup Trophy replica was created by Rapid Model Team from IME.

Watch the video and get behind-the-scene with us.

Summary of the characteristics of the 3D-printed World Cup replica as follows:

File type : .STL
Printer : 3D Espresso
Technology : FDM
Material    : PLA
Height      : 240mm
Structure   : Assembled from 3 parts – the globe, the body, and the base.
Approximate

 

build time

: The globe; 10 hours

 

The body; 14 hours

The base; 3-4 hours

The entire replica was printed using 3D Espresso, a 3D-printer developed by IME.


Features
Printable size    220 X 220 X 220 H mm
Technology Fused Filament Modelling 3D Printer
Nozzle Auto Leveling Single Nozzle, Ø 0.4mm
Positioning Accuracy Z 0.002mm, XY 0.01mm
Printing Speed 20-150 mm/s
Layer Thickness                0.05-0.30mm
Material Supported PLA, ABS, PETG, Nylon, PC, FLEX/TPU & Composer
Filament Size Ø 1.75mm
Max. Extruder Temperature 260 °C
Max. Bed Temperature 120 °C
Specifications
Equipment Dimensions 390 X 390 X 390H mm, 12Kg
Connectivity USB / SD Card
Operation Systems Windows & Mac Compatible
File Format for printing STL, obj, amf, dae, Image & G-Code
System Software Cura & Others Slicer
Power requirements 110V/220V, 250V

Talk to our team if you wish to know more @ info.3dp@cadcam.com.my , 03-77818878.

Automotive Engineering

CASE STUDY: How TXMR Showcase Chassis Jig Solution Through 3D Printing

Automotive Plant

TXMR Sdn Bhd is a full fledge manufacturing solution provider that mainly focuses on automotive industry, in particular, precision die cut components and manufacturing support products. They provide a complete manufacturing engineering services ranging from ideas, research and development, prototyping to mass production for mechanical and electrical engineering.

As a manufacturing solution provider, TXMR has automated the process of assembling chassis for various automobiles.

As it involves a complex mechanism in automating the chassis, TXMR find it hard to explain this process in particular to their clients.

They tried creating concept models with wood or cupboard paper but it didn’t help much.

Until they decided to 3D print it.

In this post, we will be sharing on what are the challenges faced by TXMR and why they decided to go ahead with 3D printing the gantry rail and crane.

The Process of Chassis Assembly

For a small scale unique production like racing car, the small team would produce a chassis jig to assembly and weld the chassis together.

However when it comes to mass manufacturing things are different.

It is inefficient to rely on manual labour to carry chassis parts individually for welding.

While the simple chassis jig is still valid, but it doesn’t help in solving the challenges faced in assembling and welding process.

With its unique gantry crane and railway, TXMR is able to automate the process through structural engineering to transport the respective automotive parts. This not only helps in holding chassis parts together, but it also help in moving parts for assembly and welding.

With this unique advantage, the challenge for TXMR now is to communicate efficiently with their clients on how can this process adds value to them.

Using Concept Models to Communicate with Clients

Their intention was simple – creating a concept model that can showcase how it works.

Gantry Crane in STL Format

Gantry Crane in STL Format

Conventional method in producing concept models not only seep away their staff’s productivity but it proves to be disrupting their time and production schedule as the traditional concept models couldn’t clearly articulate how the process adds value to their clients.

And that is how they stumble upon 3D printing the concept models.

Gantry Railway

Gantry Railway

Laser Focus on Core Business Activities

The conventional method requires a minimum of 5 days to produce a concept model while the staff struggled to cope with their main tasks.

The concept model costs less than RM 250 and it was printed in ABS, a thermoplastic material. With 3D printer in place, it only took them 8 hours while staffs can focus on their existing fabrication and design engineering project.

While 3D printing concept model is not new, it allows TXMR to focus on tasks that mattered to the business.

To learn more about industrial application for 3D printing – check out our industrial guide which is tailored made for specific industries.

 

 

Petzl Sitta

CASE STUDY: Doing Quality Testing on Petzl Sitta with Customized Jig

Petzl Sitta

Petzl Manufacturing Malaysia uses their jigs and fixtures measure of quality assurance for their product – Petzl Sitta.

While making jig and fixture is nothing new, what’s interesting is the way Petzl Manufacturing Malaysia integrate 3D printing into their existing processes.

If you own a manufacturing floor you would be very familiar with the usefulness of jig and fixture. They serve as a guide to provide repeatability and consistency.

Be it increasing productivity, or guiding assembly for the product, at the end of the day, jig and fixture helps in ensuring the quality of your product through a standardized dimension and process.

So what does that have to do with 3D printing?

Actually it does.

In this post, we will be sharing on why Petzl Manufacturing Malaysia decided to go ahead with 3D printing jig & fixture and a demonstration on how it works.

#1 Increasing Cost of Jig and Fixture

You won’t have economies of scale while doing jig and fixture.

Jig and fixture was tailored made for specific job across the assembly line. If you have 3 assembly lines with 3 different functions, that means you may potentially need 9 jigs and fixtures.

Assembly Line Example

Assembly line example, imagine CNC that many jig and fixtures.

Do note that manufacturing industry in Malaysia is typically a high-mix industries, which involves a series of different projects with fundamentally different items – this means you need to develop even more jigs and fixtures.

Moreover, considering that the cost of jigs and fixtures made in aluminium – it does not come cheap. With the ever-growing amount of jig & fixture, you would hit a point where you spend more time managing inventory instead of manufacturing them, and this leads to the next point.

#2 Productivity Long Lead Time on Jig & Fixture

To increase productivity whilst maintaining high level of consistency and tolerance is not an easy feat.

What most manufacturers do is to create guides and templates i.e. jig and fixture to maintain quality.

However, spending extra machine capacity on making jig and fixture is  tying up machine tools for production works – which is not money making activity.

On the other hand, outsourcing to other may have issues with lead time that take weeks.

Regardless of your choice, the ultimate issue here is spending time in getting the jig & fixture design right.

The design tolerance and function may not be optimal for the product – simply because machining tools in Malaysia are labor intensive.

With 3D printing, Petzl Manufacturing would just print them out at ease.

Watch How Petzl Uses It For Quality Assurance

This video was recorded during poka-yoke check. Poka-yoke is mistake proofing process that helps Petzl Manufacturing Malaysia to avoid (yokeru) mistakes (poka). This fool proofing process is meant to eliminate product defects by reducing human errors as they occur.

Here is a closer look on the digital file:

As a harness for mountain climbers, the gold ring needs to be sturdy enough to not buckle when it meets with a light tap. Conforming to it’s light weight design, the gold ring must be within a specified weight to ensure it doesn’t restrict the movement of mountain climbers.

This is why Petzl Manufacturing Malaysia came up with the 3 labels on the right of the jig – “no”, “OK” and “no good” as a testing measurement. As demonstrated in the video, the buckle on jig must not pass through the gold ring on Petzl Sitta to ensure it falls at the OK range.

Integrating 3D Printing as Part of The Core Process

The whole production of the jig only costs 2 hours and 23 minutes to print, with the cost of less than RM 140. This jig in particular was printed in ABS-M30, a thermoplastic material, this application however, is applicable in both technologies, be it FDM or Polyjet.

This not only gives more flexibility and empowering the design team to develop a functional jig, it would also be time saving as well for the company. Issues such as design validation or design iteration can be done without dwindling down on productivity as the whole process is automated.

Simply put, you can allow the machine to run overnight to produce the jig while everyone is resting while not compromising on productivity.

To learn more about industrial application for 3D printing – check out our industrial guide which is tailored made for specific industries.

 

 

Cutting Costs With Traditional Injection Molding

Factory

Plastic injection molding is one of the most widely used manufacturing processes in the world today. Look around you and you’ll probably see dozens of injection molded parts in your wallet, kitchen, car and office. Here is a quick explanation on plastic injection molding process by MATRADE:

Injection molding is a process of injecting molten plastic into the mode made by custom moldmaker or toolmaker to produce the shape in the way it needs to be designed. This process is known as injection molding process or plastic manufacturing process.

The finished products are normally electrical & electronics parts or components, automotive parts, engineering parts and household products.

If you’re a custom moldmaker or toolmaker that owns your own molding machine, you’ll understand how plastic injection molding can be crucial yet deadly to your business. So in this post, we’ll be discussing on the advantages and disadvantages of injection molding, and how can we further mitigate the disadvantages.

Advantages of Injection Molding

With injection molding, moldmakers can typically enjoy:

  • Faster Production
  • Flexibility in Material & Colour
  • Low Labour Cost
  • Design Flexibility
  • Low Waste

Injection molding is capable of producing an incredible amount of parts per hour. Depending on how many impressions (or known as part molds) are in your tool, you can be expecting 15-30 seconds for each cycle time. Once you have your tool made ready, you can simply inject the material and color of the part that you’re producing at ease.

Most importantly, these are self-gating, automated tools that run on it’s own with little to no labour.

Disadvantages of Injection Molding

There are also some huge restrictions on injection molding:

  • High Initial Tooling Cost
  • Part Design Restrictions

Not only you need to own an injecting molding machine, you will need to be equipped with the technical know-how on designing the mold which can be very expensive. You will need to have some capital to start the project and here is why it is a make or break deal: sales must be guaranteed or at least assured before you start this.

It is also crucial to understand that mold tool is made from two halves that need to pull apart, and the injected part needs to be able to be released from the tool. The process of designing plastic injection mold will require a few key elements such as:

  • Good flow design
  • Good in cooling distributions (or conformal cooling application)
  • Good in air venting

You can also view this infographic guide for better understanding.

So How Do We Achieve Cost Savings With Injection Molding?

While there has always been a debate over whether mold design or molding machine is much more important.

Mold Design in Cooling Channel

If you look at it from the perspective of time spent to correct a problem, typically if there is a faulty molding machine you can simply move the plastic mold to a more capable machine or fix it within a day or two.

However, if the problem exists within the tool it may require a significant tool redesign that could take weeks or even months depending on the complexity of the tool. Tool design inclusive to steel type and construction details is critical for getting the mold initially qualified and also vital for long term quality parts coming from the tool.

If you’re a practitioner of lean manufacturing, it is always about getting it done the right way the first time. In this case, if you’ve gotten a good functional mold design at early stage, you’re gaining a significant amount of cost savings already, due to:

  • Manufacturers normally proceed with injection molding as the deal is confirmed. This manufacturing process allows you to reap the most productivity and savings.
  • If you cut down on time spent on design iterations and prototype productions, you’re earning on machine occupancy & productivity. That means more efficient process to get more business in.

Key-takeaway: It is extremely crucial to have a good functional mold designs. Don’t ever compromise on mold design. Period.

So How Do We Validate The Mold Design?

Here is a steps we used to validate mold design which greatly helped our clients:

  • Traditional Injection Molding Process
  • Part Design
  • Tool Design
  • Tool Machining
  • Molding Machine Setup
  • Sample (first article) run
  • 3D Printing & Injection Molding Process
  • Part Design
  • Tool Design
  • 3D Print Tool
  • Molding Machine Setup
  • Sample (first article) run

Yes, we merely swapped the tool making process by 3D printing it for production testing purposes. 3D printing an injection mold is best fit when:

  • Thermoplastics with reasonable molding temperatures (< 300 °C )
  • Good flowability
  • Candidates such as PE, PP, PS, ABS, TPE, PA, POM, PC-ABS or glass filled resins.

Number of Molded Parts by Resin class

The major savings that you can get from this refined process is:

  • A 50% – 90% on both time and cost savings.
  • The specification of output, spec resins or even production process can be simulated. You can do true functional evaluation.
  • Multiple design iterations won’t hurt your bottomline. You can now detect flaws in part & tool design much more earlier prior commit in mass producing.

Does this mean that I don’t need an aluminium mold anymore?

Injection Molding Sample

Not true. 3D printing injection molds are not meant to replace conventional mass manufacturing process. Alternatively, if you’re looking to do short runs without custom making tool template, 3D printed molds are best fit if:

  • Low quantities (5 – 100)
  • Mid-sized parts (<165cc[10 cu. in.])
    • 5 – 200 ton press.
  • Tolerances>0.1mm(0.004in) *tighter tolerances can be attained depending on post processing.

Conclusion

What we realize is that, if you’re a custom molders, OEMs or even tool and die services shops that requires:

  • Early, rapid product confirmation (design, function, standards (e.g. UL, CE)
  • Early rapid assessment of design for manufacturability.
  • And you’re in the following industries:
    • Consumer Electronics
    • Consumer Products
    • Medical Device

You’ll be able to benefit greatly simply by tweaking this process. Feel free to share with us on your thoughts and how you do cost savings for injection molding.

Why Aesthetic Design Is Important For Footwear

Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.

Marilyn Monroe is right, but only half right, because this statement applies to all of us. When it comes to footwear, majority of us would be attracted by the aesthetic design first, then followed by trial to check whether we’re feeling comfortable after wearing the shoe.

Some might have different considerations such as brand, trendiness, or even some other factors, but the trigger point to all this is always the shoe design. When was the last time you bought shoes without looking at the design?

With status, identity and images come into place, no one would want to wear something that doesn’t represent themselves. This is a typical consumer purchasing process.

 

Why Aesthetic Design Is Important?

Imagine this, you’re walking into a footwear retail store with your girlfriend, and she is looking for a pair of sneakers, which she doesn’t have an idea how exactly that look like, yet.

You both walk through dozens of stores, took a break at ChaTime, and continued shopping.

After a whopping 5 hours, you caught a glimpse of shimmering light from her eyes, she said “Hey that sneaker looks good!”

You were happy, grateful and excited, not before long another shocking news hit you – “It doesn’t feel too comfortable. Let’s move, there is nothing more to see here.”

This is my real life experience and I know many of us might face the same scenario. So how does this impact shoemakers?

If the shoe is not designed aesthetically enough, it won’t pique interest of people. What’s more, if it is too aesthetically designed but human ergonomics is ignored, you can’t sell either. 

 

How Nike used 3D Printing To Face This Challenge.

nike-vapor-leash-talon-17-640x426-c

Nike Innovation Director – Shane Kohatsu told Financial Times this:

Within six months we were able to go through 12 rounds of prototype iterations that we fully tested, and ultimately we were able to make super dramatic improvements to our products.

This is how Nike & Adidas uses 3D printing to conduct design experiments, to fully understand how to integrate between design elements, ergonomics and functionality. Take, for example, Nike Vapor Leash Talon was designed to help the nation’s top football athletes maintain their drive stance longer as they train for and compete in the 40-yard dash. Adidas was reported at bringing down the typical prototyping duration from four to six weeks down to two days.

The best thing about 3D printing is it allows you to print and test on demand, this speeds up the traditional design and manufacturing process by leaps and bounds.

 

Our Own 3D Printed Shoe.

We actually designed and printed a “leather” shoe on our own, it was printed via Polyjet with a combination of rubber and rigid materials to control the shore value (a.k.a rubber hardness).

Look at the fine surface texture. It was printed in a go, no assembly, no gluing.

As of now, we’re not there yet in terms of directly 3D printing the shoe for daily use, yet. But if we’re talking about design iterations and form, fit study, then yes, 3D printing is a very good fit for R&D companies.

 

 

 

 

3D Printed Optics Inspired by Disney Research

 

Inspired by Disney’s Research & Development team for their 3D printed optics, we’ve designed a 3D printed light pipe block to experiment on light travelling across by using VeroClear from Objet500 Connex3. This light pipe block uses the light travelling theory such as the deflection theory, theory of light intensity and the optics theory. Here is what we did:

#1 Developing A Technical Drawing

Upon reviewing the optical test made by Disney’s Research & Development team, we made several adjustments to our design. The block was designed to have an approximation base of 7.4cm, 7.3cm for its width and 1.9cm for its height(actual finish part). This gives us a clearer view of the light intensity and the travelling limits that light can pass thru.

Block Dimension

  • Height : 20mm
  • Base   : 80 mm
  • Width : 80 mm
Ring Dimension

  • Outer ring: 2.5R
  • Inner ring: 2.45R
  • Tolerance: 0.025R

Once the favorable dimensions has been determined, curved tubes were drawn which were designed to embed within the block. We tested 8 curved tubes which were designed from one face and swept to the other rectangular face of the block, leaving a few centimeter gap from the tail of the tube, whilst the head touches the first rectangular face of the block.

3D Printed Light Pipe - Technical Drawing

The trick that allows the light travel through the ring in the block actually is the tolerance between the outer & the inner ring. When this was part printed by the Polyjet technology machine, the tolerance between that two ring will printed with full of support materials that allow light to travel.

#2 Sanding & Polishing Techniques

Upon completion of printing, we used a high speed water jet machine to remove the support material. Once it is cleaned, the block is sanded using several types of abrasive sandpapers. Once the surface of the block has been smoothed, the block is then polished using a polishing liquid. The final product would be a clear block with embedded tubes.

3D Printed Light Pipe Block - Before After

The light effects were tested using laser pointers and built-in torch smartphones. The resulted light effects were visible at the tail of the curved tubes.

3D Printed Light Pipe - Light Illumination

Noticed how the light dots are appearing at the 3rd pipe?

Key Takeaways

Results were not as perfect as what was shown on Disney’s light path block video but from this experiment, we can conclude that the Stratasys Polyjet printers are able to develop a clear object that can match the reflective capabilities of a mirror.

3D Printed Impossible Triangle

The Impossible Triangle

I suppose most of us are pretty familiar with this – impossible triangle optical illusion.

Impossible Triangle Sketch

Impossible Triangle Sketch

 

What about a 3D printed one?

3D Printed Impossible Triangle

3D Printed Impossible Triangle

3D Printed Impossible Triangle - Bottom View

It’s actually curved.

3D Printed Impossible Triangle - Side View

Check out the side view.

Don’t mind the triangle, we were too excited to check out the optical illusion instead of cleaning it properly (it was printed in rubber-like material from Polyjet). Do you have any optical illusion stuff to share with us?