The possibilities of 3D printing for startups are nearly unlimited. NovelSense uses additive manufacturing (AM) technologies to develop prototypes for sensor housings. Current projects involving printing technology are for example ABAKUS.ai and project VideoSmart.
When developing additively manufactured objects, Engineers have to ask the following three questions:
- Is 3D printing the right manufacturing technology?
- Which AM technology to choose?
- How do I design a 3D part for printing?
A decision for 3D printing can be made by considering the advantages and disadvantages of additive manufacturing. For engineers, 3D printing can be especially useful when developing prototypes that e.g. require continuous changes, have a smaller build-size and do not require a high resistance against mechanical stress. Also 3D printing can be considerably cheaper for small quantities of products.
There are various AM technologies to choose from. The material of choice narrows down the options. Design prototypes are usually printed using polymeres such as PLA or ABS. Technologies that support these materials are e.g. Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) or Stereolithography (SLA). These are the most widely used printing technologies. Also there is a variety of printing services on the market, that deliver parts at reasonable costs.
Generating designs for 3D prototypes is more challenging. Depending on the materials and designs, Engineers have to consider a variety of effects that occur. Many producers of 3D printers and service providers offer helpful “Design guidelines”. Here are some sources that I can recommend: