Rapid Manufacturing Services
ProtoCAM is a leading provider of rapid manufacturing services, a type of manufacturing in which 3D additive manufacturing technologies are utilized to create a final part, component, or item. Traditionally, 3D additive manufacturing has been used predominantly for prototyping parts that are used in the design or testing phase. Rapid manufacturing takes this process several steps further by producing the finished item that will be utilized by the end user. Typically, this process is used for a short production run—from a single piece, to a few dozen pieces, to a few hundred items. Rapid manufacturing is sometimes referred to simply as 3D additive manufacturing or direct digital manufacturing.
Advances in Rapid Manufacturing Methods and Materials
The use of rapid manufacturing for creating final parts is a relatively new development in the 3D printing industry. The biggest driver for this change has been improvements and additions of materials that are used in these additive manufacturing processes, as well as advances in the processes themselves.
Just a few years ago, a prototype part created with stereolithography would not necessarily have been suitable for use as a finished, functional item. Typically, the part would not have been durable enough to use; the prototype would have been good for form and fit, but usually would not have complete functional attributes.
Now, the latest, most advanced thermoplastic and thermoset materials and methods are used in rapid manufacturing to create fully functional items that can be immediately used. It’s these advancements that now allow the opportunity to use rapid manufacturing to create finished goods. As 3D additive manufacturing materials and technologies continue to improve and advance, more and more end-use and production parts will be possible with rapid manufacturing.
Benefits of Rapid Manufacturing
Rapid manufacturing is used to create an item directly from the 3D CAD model of the part. The benefits of rapid manufacturing include:
- Eliminates the creation of any tooling and/or tooling costs, which can often be high
- Low production cost overheads
- Fast production speed
- Reduced time to market
Characteristics of an Ideal Part for Rapid Manufacturing
A typical item that can be created at ProtoCAM with rapid manufacturing has the following characteristics:
- Small to medium size parts
- Low quantity, 1-1,000 parts
- Previously made with low volume injection molding, epoxy, or aluminum tooling
- Limited product life span
- Defined quantities needed
- Geometry that cannot easily be made using traditional manufacturing methods
A Rapid Manufacturing Example
Here’s a scenario where using rapid manufacturing is a good fit:
A supplier of a specialty pipe interconnect needs to make 200 pieces for this month’s sales. In the course of assembling the interconnect, he needs a fixture with complex internal geometry. In addition, the design of the interconnect gets tweaked every couple of months. Instead of investing in expensive tooling to make the part (and its complex inner geometry) that is likely to change soon, the company instead orders 200 parts from ProtoCAM to use for these fixtures.
Processes and Materials Used in Rapid Manufacturing
ProtoCAM can use the following 3D additive manufacturing technologies and advanced materials to make production parts in both plastic and metal:
- Stereolithography (SLA): Accura 25, Accura 60, Accura ClearVue, SL 5530HT, (plastic parts)
- Selective Laser Sintering (SLS): Nylon 11 (EX) High Elongation, PA Nylon 12, PA 12 Glass Beads
- Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS): Stainless Steel (15-5), Stainless Steel (316L), Stainless Steel (17-4), Aluminum (AlSi10mg), Maraging Steel (Tooling Steel), Titanium Alloy Ti-64 (Pre-Alloyed Ti6AIV4), Cobalt Chrome (High Carbon CoCr Alloy), Inconel (718 and 625 Alloy) (plastic and metal parts)
- Multi Jet Fusion (MJF): PA Nylon 12, PA 12 Glass Beads (40%)
- Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM): ABS, Polycarbonate, PC/ABS, ASA, Ultem 9084, Ultem 1010(plastic parts)
- PolyJet 3D Printing: Digital ABS, Agilus30, Shore 40A-95A (plastic parts)
Contact ProtoCAM for Rapid Manufacturing Services