Outside of the Additive Box: Sculpteo Unveils New Laser Engraving Service

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sculpteo-logoAs anyone who follows the 3D printing industry closely enough is aware, the France-based 3D printing company Sculpteo is not only known for their 3D printing services, but also for the insight they offer through their blog. Whether they’re explaining the optimal way to design for their latest material, handing out hints to maximize your return on investment (ROI) from 3D printing, examining the new and exciting 3D printing technology from Carbon, or breaking down the entire state of the industry, you can always count on Sculpteo to be there for the 3D printing community with a beneficial tip or two.

Now, the service bureau is going outside of the realm of 3D printing technology, offering their new Laser Engraving service, a subtractive manufacturing technique that will complement their vast 3D printing ecosystem. Their newly implemented method uses a laser beam to change the surface of an object, and is generally used to create engraved images upon a material. Determined by the inputted 2D file, the highly heated laser vaporizes the selected material matter, exposing the final image in the form of intricate cavities. The method useful for engraving small objects like jewelry and other ornaments, and is compatible with a wide range of material surfaces, including metal, plastic, wood, leather, and glass.

laserengraveNot only is their new laser engraving process extremely quick, it also reduces the chance of inflicting damage to the selected material. Within their laser engraving process is a subset technology, called Laser Etching, which may seem to be the same on the surface, but does have a key difference. With their Laser Etching, the laser beam is used to melt away the material, rather than completely vaporize it. This subset method actually keeps the shape of the material in tact, which is more common for customized objects, such as logos, serial numbers, or pictures. Now, this may seem like a vastly different technology in comparison to 3D printing, and in many ways, it is. But, it’s important to keep in mind that Sculpteo’s newly implemented digital subtractive fabrication technique will actually take their 3D printing services to new heights of innovation.

The 3D printed and laser cut drone, created by Sculpteo

The 3D printed and laser cut drone, created by Sculpteo

To prove this, Sculpteo utilized both their selective laser sintering (SLS) technology and new laser engraving method to create a sleek 3D printed drone. Although 3D printing was beneficial for creating the drone shell and motor mounts, the SLS technology was limited by its dimensions and costs. Thus, Sculpteo decided to laser cut the flat and large parts, such as the drone’s arms and hood, into a 3mm thick black acrylic (PMMA) sheet. In addition, the laser engraving process also allowed Sculpteo to add a logo, information, and markings for installation onto the drone body.

For consumers, Sculpteo will offer 60 variations of materials stemming from four families, plywood, acrylic (PMMA), cardboard, and medium-density fiberboard (MDF). Both the laser engraving and laser etching services are still in beta, and Sculpteo seems eager to receive feedback on their new service. In fact, the first 50 customers to order with their new fabrication technique will receive a complimentary laser cut Maya Pyramid Model. Like the aforementioned drone, Sculpteo utilized both additive and subtractive manufacturing methods to create the colorful pyramid.

The pyramid’s base, steps, and the cap that holds it all together are 3D printed in black polyamide, while the ten colorful layers in the center of the pyramid are laser cut from 30 of the 60 materials (using all four main varieties) that Sculpteo has to offer with their new service. Not only is the pyramid — based on the Maya Temple of Kukulcan, from Chichen Itza — easy on the eyes, it also comes apart into pieces, allowing the the beholder to feel the texture of each laser cut material. Thus far, it’s unclear how many consumers have ordered with the laser engraving or laser etching service, but the radiant pyramid is essentially a thank you to early users who can provide feedback and help Sculpteo further develop their latest technology.

The Maya Pyramid Model

The Maya Pyramid Model

It’s easy to see how laser engraving and laser etching will work to enhance Sculpteo’s 3D printing capabilities, as well as their consumers. After all, 3D printing technology is at its best when a complementary process helps push it forward, as Sculpteo has already shown through their 3D printed drone and elegant pyramid prize. So, if you’re as excited to see what this newly implemented technology can do for your ideas, or just want a chance to win your own Maya Pyramid Model, join in on Sculpteo’s laser engraving and laser etching beta program. Discuss in the Sculpteo Unveils Laser Engraving to Enhance 3D Printing forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Source: Sculpteo]

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