Additive Manufacturing with Plastics. Modular 3D Printing Solutions for Plastic Parts.
As an industrial production method, 3D printing offers tremendous design and manufacturing freedom. The most complex of shapes can be designed and produced in the highest quality, quickly and cost-efficiently, even for small batch sizes. In this way, the process provides a solution to inventory, pressures on product turnaround times and small-batch challenges faced by many manufacturers.
Spare parts management comes with a long list of challenges: tying up cash flow, high storage and logistics costs, overproduction due to minimum production volumes, and long manufacturing times.
Examples of this are trains, trucks, and buses that are usually in service for 20+ years. When there is a need for spare parts, most are usually discontinued. The polymer 3D printing process is the answer, enabling decentralized digital manufacturing and virtual inventories.
Spare parts made from plastics (or metals) can be produced on demand by a 3D printer (or 3D printing service bureau), without tools and in the exact quantity required, without a minimum purchase volume. This gives you flexibility, frees up cash-flow, speeds up part lead times, and improves cost-efficiencies: no overproduction, savings on tooling, logistics, and warehouse storage costs.
The on-board info screens of the intercity trains (ICEs) of the Deutsche Bahn are equipped with 3D-printed thin-walled fluorescent tube holders. This allows Deutsche Bahn to manufacture new spare parts in small quantities whenever they are required.
What are the Polymer Plastic 3D Printer Technologies?
Polymer plastic additive manufacturing covers a range of technologies;
- Powder Bed Fusion (PBF) – Selective Laser Sintering (SLS
- Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), sometimes called Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF)
- Vat Polymerization – SLA (Stereolithography), DLP (Digital Light Processing) and MSLA (Masked Stereolithography)
- Material Jetting – Material Jetting (MJ), Drop on Demand (DOD)
Polymer 3D Printers by EOS – Flexible and Cost-Efficient Production of High-Quality Polymer Parts
Rapid 3D is the Certified Partner for EOS Polymer Systems in sub-Saharan Africa and South Africa. EOS has over 30 years of polymer PBF expertise in the combination and interdependencies between high-quality metal powders, process parameters, and systems.
EOS 3D printers are available from entry-level models, characterised by outstanding part quality to reliable medium build volume production systems supporting the widest range of materials to multi-laser, large part volume with high throughput machines capable of series-production 3D printing at industrial scales. These polymer 3D printers can be flexibly automated and integrated into existing production environments.
With the EOS range of SLS Polymer systems, you benefit from validated parameter sets for optimal product properties, and a comprehensive selection of materials including PEKK Polyether ketones, PA11 Polyamide 11 Nylon, PA12 Polyamide 12 Nylon, TPE Thermoplastic Elastomers, PS Polystyrene, PP Polypropylene. Strength, impact resistance, temperature resistance, dimensional stability or biocompatibility – the vast majority of requirements are covered by EOS materials
All EOS materials are delivered with a certificate documenting the results of comprehensive QA testing, not just of the powder itself, but also of test parts built on a dedicated system with a dedicated process.
International standards for the materials used in additive manufacturing have not yet been established, but they are a must-have for production. That’s why EOS has adapted the well-know Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) to 3D printing – for the first time in the industry.
EOS’ Quality Triangle – gives you confidence that each AM part is built with integrity, and that support can be provided for all industries and applications.
The EOS 3D printing materials, systems, and process parameters fit together optimally. With the right EOS materials, you can realize the target property profiles in the best possible way for your products. This gives you certifiability, regulatory compliance, and lot traceability.
Durable Goods, Jewellery & Dental 3D Printers – In-house End-to-End 3D Printing Solutions
From tough engineering plastics to castable waxes and resins, polymer 3D printing covers many industry applications.
As an example, in South Africa and worldwide, jewellery manufacturing has been transformed by 3D printing. SLA 3D printers print 100% wax material, delivering durable, high-quality jewellery patterns, giving jewellery designers reliable performance and results throughout existing lost-wax casting processes and equipment.
The dental industry is now starting to benefit from the technology, producing surgical guides, dental models, and orthodontic splints.
Mass production, one-size-fits-all, long lead times, large inventories — these are the hallmarks of durable goods manufacturing. Today’s consumer wants products that are unique, personalized, and available immediately in a wide variety of styles. This demand is putting manufacturers under significant pressure to rethink traditional manufacturing models, striving to respond with increased factory automation and connectivity, greater product personalization, and more responsive just-in-time manufacturing.
They are finding answers to these challenges by combining traditional work flows with polymer 3D printing.
Prototypes, tools and production parts
FDM and SLA printers work with a wide range of materials, with a range of sizes and price points, which are designed for prototyping, end-use part production, casting patterns, moulds, tooling, fixtures, and medical models.
SLA 3D printers are able to deliver highly detailed, tiny parts just a few mm in size, all the way up to 1.5 m long parts—all at the same exceptional resolution and accuracy. Even large parts remain highly accurate from end-to-end, with virtually no part shrinkage or warping.
Tolerances on SLA parts are typically less than 0.05 millimeters, making it an excellent choice when precision is your top priority. Delivering the smoothest surface finish of any additive manufacturing process, the quality of SLA parts makes this versatile technology great for:
- Master patterns for vacuum casting
- Sacrificial patterns for metal casting
- Tools, moulds, and dies
- Functional prototypes and models
- High clarity, transparent products, and components
- Complex assemblies
- Wind tunnel models
- Under the hood components
- Rapid production of flow test rigs
- Mass customization
- Custom assembly jigs and fixtures
Reinforced FDM, also known as, Continuous Filament Fabrication (CFF) parts are exceptionally strong, supremely stiff, ultra-lightweight, and incredibly versatile.
Formed from the combination of two materials, composite parts are incredibly strong and versatile. The fabrication process enables you to print parts that are an order of magnitude stiffer and stronger than typical nylon 3D printed objects.
Continuous carbon fiber and kevlar parts stand up to the toughest applications. Stronger than 6061 Aluminum and 40% lighter, these parts are perfect for manufacturing equipment, jaws, tooling, and end-use parts.
As strong as aircraft grade aluminum and over 40% lighter, Markforged CFF parts are more than capable of replacing machined metal tools, fixtures and prototypes.
Precision plastic, elastomeric, wax and composite parts
MultiJet Printing (MJP) technology produces high fidelity, true-to-CAD parts, with fast print times, easy operation, and simple post-processing for high productivity and true simplicity, from file to finished part. The wide range of materials covers a wide set of applications for concept modeling, fit, form and function testing, functional prototyping, fluid flow analysis, rapid tooling, jigs and fixtures, casting patterns, and medical applications.