I believe that anyone who has worked with a consumer-level 3D printer would tell you that 3D printing is not easy. Having worked with a variety of desktop 3D printers ranging in price and quality, including building a couple of my own kits, I would definitely agree. 3D printing as it currently exists for at-home users and hobbyists has a learning curve, and despite many companies claiming to offer plug-and-play solutions, can be very challenging if not frustrating at times.
The world's technology is constantly changing and being further developed, and we see that especially in the realm of 3D printers. Just how far have we come though? We broke it down for you in a then and now comparison of Stratasys machines.
Check out the difference just 25 years can make!
For those of you who are familiar with 3D printing, you know that typically speaking, there is almost always one universal bottleneck that must be dealt with – people. Please, let me explain:
Generally, any facility that has a single, or collection of 3D printers usually has more employees/engineers than printers. Because of this, there is usually a severe bottleneck over who can use the printer, when, and why:
Once upon a time in the not so distant past, the world was introduced to the first 3D Printers; soon after, they infiltrated the technology and manufacturing industries. And these machines were great, technological advances made them better, but they still had their flaws. One being that in a commercial setting, the fear of the learning curve frightened many would be users away.
Stratasys changed all of that with the inception of the F123 Series; their most user friendly printer to date.
The F123 Series makes operation easier for users of all experience levels by streamlining basic print functions such as setup, file imports, integrating GrabCAD Print Software, material swaps, and calibration.
This week, Stratasys has unveiled a new line of 3D printers.
The brainchild of over 100,000 hours of machine testing, over 30,000 hours of material reliability testing per material, 43 existing patents, and 15 new patents, this new line of systems is the most researched and tested system Stratasys has ever developed in the history of the company. A series of systems that could easily be considered “younger siblings” to the Fortus 380 and 450 machines, this new creation incorporates many of the advanced technologies from these larger systems, with some newly added-on top of the line features.
We present to you, the Stratasys F123 Series of 3D Printers:
For ages, the only way to manufacture products – with additive or subtractive methods – was to start with a CAD model that you would make using 3D design software, like SOLIDWORKS. Of course software such as SOLIDWORKS are incredible tools, allowing extreme ease-of-use and high customization possibility for designers and engineers across a multitude of industries. However, have you ever asked yourself why we create three dimensional models, on two dimensional computer screens? Well, as it turns out, this may just be a thing of the past.
Since their recent inception, the now viral technology of Virtual Reality (VR) goggles, offered by a plethora of different companies, have primarily been used for never before seen interactivity within video games, educational graphical interfaces, and more. VR goggles such as Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Microsoft HoloLens provide consumers with a whole new world of interaction and entertainment with their astounding holographic technologies.
The first definition of Agile Manufacturing that comes up when typing the term into Google is:
A term applied to an organization that has created the processes, tools, and training to enable it to respond quickly to customer needs and market changes while still controlling costs and quality.
You may already be a fairly lean, mean, manufacturing machine, with tremendous output and minimized overhead. If that is so, could there possibly be a way to become even better? I’m here to tell you that there most certainly is.
The basic principles of manufacturing require a business to produce as much product to sate market demand, no more, no less. To be successful, you of course need to be quick with your output, being able to change existing products or create new ones, and beat your competitors to market to stay ahead of the pack. What we here at CADimensions have noticed from doing business with so many manufacturers is that pretty much everyone suffers from the same basic pain points. Here are three of the bigger ones that 3D printing can make even more agile for your business.
If you have a production level 3D printer like a Stratasys Fortus System, there is a possibility that you have worked with soluble support materials. It has been a phenomenal addition to 3D printing technology, allowing for more freedom when designing hollow points and complex geometries. In addition to being used to assist in the creation of solid models, soluble support materials have also been used to create new production structures all on their own, via the application of sacrificial tooling.
What is it?
For those of you that may be unaware, sacrificial tooling is an application that consists of printing out a structure solely in a soluble material, which is then used to make composite structures. The process works by printing your structure, wrapping it in a type of resin or fiber, then washing away the original structure, leaving your hollow part intact. It is a crucial application for industries like high end automotive, for both the quality of the end part, and the ability to reach geometries not previously possible with more traditional methods.
Like the torch of Prometheus, technology is a gift that allows us to connect with each other, be more productive, and evolve our way of life. It is a wonderful thing, although many in the world are still living in the dark. Video games, smartphones, and other rapidly developing technologies are incredible additions to our lives for certain, but they are irrelevant to a person who struggles to find fresh food and water every day. To answer this problem of unbalanced technology and power in the world, many incredible inventions have come into being, like the very popular Life Straw, or cheap, adjustable eye-glasses. In addition to these wonderful technologies, 3D printing has also been helping the world a great deal for some time.
There are a plethora of organizations we could talk about, but some that really stand out for us are in the realm of prosthetics. Just last year we partnered with the e-NABLE project, an organization founded by research scientist John Schull from Rochester Institute of Technology that develops and builds 3D printed prosthetic limbs for children around the world.
Recently, I was asked if there was a magic button in Insight to convert Support to Model material without creating Custom Groups. There are certainly times were models have a lot of support and it becomes complicated to make Custom Groups. While it may not be magic, this is a short cut I’d like to share to help save time and materials.
For this example, I went into the Insight training folder, selected the L-bracket, and deliberately oriented it upside down to get the most Support. The model was set to Sparse fill and Support style was set to SMART (Saves material and reduces time).