Whether you are a novice or a veteran of 3D printing today, experimenting with different materials and techniques is not only part of the fun, but part of a process that has yielded some incredible innovation around the globe.
Affordability is often one of the major bonuses of using 3D printing—aside from other benefits like being able to create objects that may have been otherwise impossible, expediency in doing so, and the ability to experiment and create prototypes without having to go to a middleman each time, pay more, and wait. Materials and production do still cost money, however, leading many enthusiasts to use hollowing. After all, why fill up a geometrical space with material when it could remain empty and save on the bottom line? With hollowing though, there have historically been associated issues such as decreased strength and the potential for loss of functionality.
Midwest Prototyping, a service provider for 3D printing in Wisconsin, acted as a beta tester for 3D printing some hollowed structures in master patterns used in their silicone casting production.
“Honeycomb structures helped us reduce the weight of several SLA molds by an impressive 42.38%! We’re very pleased with the results. This feature is a prime example of Materialise’s cutting-edge innovation,” said Midwest Prototyping AM Specialist Alfredo Jijón. “Any design that has at least one large plane will largely benefit from the conversion to a honeycomb structure.”
Currently, Midwest Prototyping is offering seven different types of 3D printing for their customers, available on 20 different 3D printers. Their facility is ISO 9001:2015 certified, and they offer a number of different post-processing techniques, along with options for low-volume production when needed.
“We really appreciate the opportunity to help Materialise develop new features of Magics. As 3D printing technologies continue to advance, having a way to match those innovations from the software perspective is tremendously helpful,” said Jijón. “Magics is a very powerful tool that helps us do our job faster and more accurately. Every new release gives us better, stronger features to keep up with our customers’ demands.”
Although this case study proceeded using stereolithography, it can be used with other types of 3D printing too; for instance, RapidFit+ is a Materialise company that 3D prints the honeycomb structures for automotive parts using laser sintering. With 3D printing and their innovative RapidFit modular system, they have been able to revolutionize the way different fixtures are made in the automotive tooling industry, as well as introducing greater functionality to objects like clips and snap-fits. All the benefits of 3D printing are passed on to the customer, including shorter time to market for products.
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