3D printer expediates part manufacturing

DemaPlasTech Rapid Prototyping and Stratasys invited aBr to an open day and a “Tour In 3D Printing” in early March.

Stratasys is a manufacturer of 3D printers and materials for personal use, prototyping and production. During the event we saw both Polyjet and FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling) printers in action, including a sub R40 000 machine. DemaPlasTech director, Jacques Kleynhans, gave a brief presentation on the different technologies available and the benefits of each.

Attendees were shown a video of the recently launched Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer, which is the first and only 3D printer to combine colours with multi-material 3D printing. It is said to be the world’s most versatile 3D printer, delivering “unparalleled colour product realism”. Not knowing too much about these things, we’ll have to take their word for it…

Apparently, this new 3D printer allows better decision making, improves design and manufacturing efficiencies and produces better products, faster. Among others, it features a unique triple-jetting technology that combines droplets of three base materials to produce parts with virtually unlimited combinations of rigid, flexible, and transparent colour materials as well as colour digital materials – all in a single print run.

This ability to achieve the characteristics of an assembled part without assembly or painting is a significant time-saver. It helps product manufacturers validate designs and make good decisions earlier before committing to manufacturing, and bring products to market faster. 3D printing has and continues to be used in the automotive sector, with most major vehicle manufacturers using the technology to prototype parts in special printing facilities.

Ford has seen the benefits of 3D printing for car manufacturing and this latest video shows the process at Ford's 3D printing facility. They can now create prototypes for any part of a motor vehicle and have them built in less time than it would take for traditional manufacturing. 3D Printing is a process whereby parts created three-dimensionally in a computer are turned into prototype parts made of sand, plastic or other materials. This process allows engineers to experience the real look and feel of a part that they are developing for Ford vehicles.


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