3D Print Without Limits!
Right now, 3D printing has some constraints. Our challenge is to “3D Print Without Limits!”
But for doing this in a proper way, we must resolve some 3D printing actual limitations, as described shortly below.
The Strength of 3D Printed Parts
3D printed parts are not as strong as traditionally-manufactured parts. Their layer-by-layer technique of manufacturing is both their biggest strength and their greatest weakness. In something like injection molding, you have a very even strength across the part, as the material is of a relatively consistent material structure. In 3D printing, you are building it in layers — this means that it has laminate weaknesses as the layers don’t bond as well in the Z axis as they do in the X and Y plane. This is comparable to a Lego wall — you place all the bricks on top of each other, and press down: feels strong, but push the wall from the side and it breaks quite easily.
Straightening the 3D Printed Car
As for 3D printing a body car, for example, we must have the body and chassis reinforced, by using ________ (to be filled in) and reinforced ABS plastic.
The EVoyaj will be printed from carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, a versatile, strong, and relatively cheap material that could enable some new approaches to safety. Thanks to 3D printing, the car is built in layers squirted from the nozzles of a massive printer, we will embed energy-absorbing crash structures and super strong seat-belt mounts that are anchored deep in the body.
SABIC’s LNP™ THERMOCOMP™ carbon fiber-reinforced compound is chosen for its excellent strength-to-weight ratio and high stiffness, which minimizes warping during the 3D printing process, enabling enhanced aesthetics and performance.
There is a misconception that 3D printing cannot make smooth and polished parts available from traditional manufacturing technologies. We will offer finishing services for parts printed from FDM (Fluid Deposition Modelling) and Imprint3D machines. Imprint Tech will offer several finishing techniques: sanding, bead blasting and vapor smoothing.
This is challenging! To print something, you need a CAD model.
1. Learn AutoCAD:
Learning CAD is advisable, but not so easy, so our company has a CAD teacher partner who will help our employees and partners to learn how the program works and how to design using AutoCAD.
2. Downloading 3D files:
Every day a new 3D model library opens up on the internet. These instantly seem to get populated with the same 3D files that are on all the other sites. Many of these files are not moderated, meaning that many are not guaranteed to be 3D printable. Many of them are made for animation/rendering and are flat surfaces with images projected onto them. These aren’t printable. Our challenge is to publish only PRINTABLE 3D projects and files, that will be tested and prototyped, as required by the specific project!
Different types of 3D printers have advantages and disadvantages. FDM, the main consumer form of 3D printers, extrudes ABS or PLY in a relatively safe manor, with the materials cooling down quickly, meaning the parts are safe to touch straight off the machine (and leave little in the way of mess). Our challenge is to develop and improve our Imprint3D printers to have these features included.
Non professional printers have some issues unsolved. Resins are really messy and expensive; powder-based printers are also messy, others operate at high temperatures or produce waste. Right now this basically leaves us with FDM, which has not the best surface finish, but we have finish methods as shown above.
Generally speaking, you can only print in one material, and this is generally a plastic. Now look around you…how many items are in your room that are made up of a single piece of plastic — just plastic, nothing else? I can see two things; a cup and a lens cap. The cup cost 5p. The lens cap was expensive, but requires very high accuracy and acute clips (not great on a 3D print thanks to the layers causing weaknesses). Would I 3D print it? No. Most items in the house are made up from multiple materials, and most of them are both metal and plastic. Those two cannot be made together as their melting temperatures are hundreds, if not thousands of degrees apart. I’d not like to smelt in my living room either.
A great analogy I once read was the comparison of 3D printers to the bread making machine. In the ’90s, bread makers suddenly became affordable and everyone got one; they then went and spent $4-7 on all the ingredients to make bread. They followed the instructions and left the bread cooking overnight. In the morning they came down to the wonderful smell of freshly cooked bread; bread that they had created using a machine, some materials and some time. They smugly sat eating their bread thinking “this is the best loaf of bread ever”. Two weeks later the bread machine is in the cupboard and they’ve gone back to buying their carbs from the shop. I’d say that 99 per cent of the population would rather go out and buy a loaf of bread for $1, rather than making one for $3, despite it being more rewarding.
We love 3D printing, and we believe that it has a giant future. Personally, I know it has that huge future — otherwise I wouldn’t be committing every day of my life to it! I provoke you to join my projects and my international team!
The future for consumer 3D printing lies in the potential for people to create, invent and share ideas. Since starting this business I’ve helped hundreds of designers make their ideas come to life, and am proudly watching as they arrive in the marketplace.
3D printing will continue to grow in areas like the prototyping market, low-volume production runs (on very high-end machines), medical, aerospace — the list goes on. But as an everyday household object? I’m not convinced.
We are still firmly in the honeymoon period with 3D printing — we’re in wonder of it and what it can do. But when you look at just the parts produced and not the way they were produced, printed parts are a long way behind in terms of quality, and when there often is no cost advantage, Captain Everyday will always go for the mass-produced one. Boy, do I hope I’m wrong, though.
We are inspired by:
– Aldric Negrier, from the University of the Algarve, founder of ReprapAlgarve.com
– Nick Allen, the founder of 3D printing company “3D Print UK”, who is producing thousands of models for individuals and corporate clients.
– Romanian Symme3D Team, who created the first 100% designed and manufactured in Romania Delta 3D Printer.