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There’s going to be a lot to see at the TCT Show this week, as 3D printer manufacturers showcase not only their printers themselves but samples of items made on those printers. For some newer companies that only have one or two models, it’s relatively easy to come up with pieces that demonstrate the capabilities of all of their machines. For other companies, those that have dozens of 3D printers, it’s a bit more challenging – some picking and choosing is required.

EnvisionTEC has more than 40 models of 3D printers across its six platforms, so a team at the Stoke-on-Trent, UK branch of the company came up with an idea to show off the abilities of several of those 3D printers in just one piece. The result is quite stunning – the team designed and 3D printed a mechanical dog that was created with nine different 3D printer models. The dog will be on display at EnvisionTEC’s booth at the TCT Show, along with several other 3D printed pieces and, of course, 3D printers themselves. Such an ambitious project took a lot of work and a great deal of teamwork, and 3DPrint.com got a chance to talk to Martin Harwood, an experienced CAD designer and technician, to find out more about how it was done.

“As with everything it was a team effort,” Harwood told us. “We needed a show piece that would stand out and be a talking point at the TCT show. At the same time it also needed to demonstrate the abilities of not just one but a cross section of printers and materials. So after consideration the steampunk idea was something the whole team thought was great. We looked at a number of different model concepts and the range of MCAD samples we had available already, and the mechanical dog was something which we settled on.”

The dog, which was completed over the course of a few months’ time, from June to September, is a fierce-looking canine with glowing eyes. It doesn’t move, but it looks like it could – and that was the point. Its design and strategic lighting highlight key features and make it look as though it could hop right off of its platform. The dog is made up of 170 pieces of varying sizes; some of them were custom built, while others came from design files EnvisionTEC already had on hand.

According to Harwood, the team used nine different EnvisionTEC 3D printers to print the dog:

  • EnvisionTEC Xtreme 3SP
  • EnvisionTEC Ultra 3SP
  • EnvisionTEC Perfactory 3 Mini-Multi lens
  • EnvisionTEC Perfactory 4 Mini XL
  • EnvisionTEC Perfactory 4 Standard XL
  • EnvisionTEC Desktop XL
  • EnvisionTEC Vida
  • EnvisionTEC Micro Plus XL
  • EnvisionTEC Micro Plus Hi-Res

They also used seven different materials:

  • ABS 3SP Tru
  • ABS 3SP Flex (White and Grey)
  • ABS 3SP Tough
  • E-Model Light
  • Hi-Impact (Black and Grey)
  • E-Glass
  • HTM140

Looking at the careful precision and detail of the dog, it’s hard to imagine how long it must have taken. Each part varied considerably in its print time, said Harwood.

“Some of the big pieces printed on our large frame 3SP models took several days, but smaller pieces printed on our micro range took considerably less,” he explained. “For example the ears which were built using EnvisionTEC’s Micro Plus XL machine, took 1 hour 58 minutes in our HTM140 v2 material.”

Harwood was kind enough to answer a couple more questions about the project as EnvisionTEC prepares to unveil it to the public at this week’s TCT Show.

Did you run into any challenges with the project?

“Our main challenge was the short deadline! In the end we had roughly 10 weeks, of which 2 weeks were allocated for design and planning. The team that built this project have a main function as a benchmarking facility, therefore we had to balance the work-load around other responsibilities (including the production of other samples for the TCT show).”

How did 3D printing affect the outcome of the project?

“As the benchmarking team we have access to EnvisionTEC’s full range of professional grade printers and materials. That gave us the advantage. We could print multiple jobs simultaneously overnight and have them finished and in our hands the next day, or in some cases the same day. This allowed us to keep up the pace of the build and piece together a project of this nature very quickly. Additionally the amazing quality of the prints straight from our machines allowed us to paint pieces in many cases without post-finishing being required.”

The TCT Show is taking place in Birmingham, UK from September 26 to 28; EnvisionTEC will have its mechanical dog on display at Stand C30. The dog doesn’t have a name yet, but you could be the one to give it a name – just drop a business card with your suggestion into the bowl at the stand and EnvisionTEC will pick one at the end of the show. The winner will receive a free watch from EnvisionTEC’s luxury goods customer Shinola.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com, or share your thoughts below. 

[Images: EnvisionTEC]

 

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