Installations of 3D printing systems are on the rise as adoption increases around the world. New installations allow for increased capabilities in additive manufacturing and showcase a commitment through investment, with 3D printers big and small offering new steps forward for users. Two new installations, one featuring desktop 3D printing and another with large-scale additive manufacturing, highlight the use of additive manufacturing in the medical and automotive industries.
ITL Group specializes in the design, development and manufacture of high-tech medical and diagnostic devices. Founded in 1977, the company works with companies ranging from small startups to global corporations, and has worked on more than 400 projects at various stages throughout the product development life cycle. Last year, ITL Group purchased two 3D printers that reduced time and design costs, as well as enabling better designs by allowing for multiple rapid iterations. Now the company is deepening its investment in 3D printing with the purchase of another new 3D printer.
The FlashForge Creator Pro has long been a popular machine and is an upgrade on FlashForge’s original Creator 3D printer. Precise and reliable, the Creator Pro offers high-quality 3D prints in a user-friendly package, and it appealed to ITL Group for its print quality and its ability to enable better design flexibility. The company also upgraded to a Flexion high-temperature dual extruder, which will allow employees to experiment with different techniques and high-performance 3D printing materials, such as PETG – a strong, tough filament that can withstand high temperatures – and TPU, which will allow them to 3D print flexible parts such as living hinges, which were not possible before.The new 3D printer can also be used for designing and printing inexpensive jigs and fixtures for manufacturing, along with molds for casting rubber or plastic in-house. The FlashForge Creator Pro also features a chamber to keep out dust and other foreign particles, as well as to maintain steady temperatures for better results with filaments such as ABS.
More and more manufacturing companies are turning to 3D printing for its ability to iterate rapidly. New designs can be fabricated, tested, altered, and fabricated and tested again at a speed that would be impossible with other manufacturing techniques. For ITL Group, which creates lifesaving medical devices, time is always of the essence, and 3D printing allows the company to get its products out of the factory and into the hands of the people who need them as quickly as possible.
“3D printing continues to be an invaluable resource in R&D, allowing us to rapidly develop, prototype and advance designs at a speed and cost not achievable with traditional manufacture methods,” said Tom Haydon, Mechanical Systems Engineer at ITL Group.
ITL Group’s medical technology includes in vitro diagnostics, point-of-care devices, surgical robotics, cancer staging and treatment, imaging, and next-generation DNA sequencing. It also provides several non-medical technologies, including laboratory instruments, food diagnostics, security systems, micro-camera technology, and aerospace technology.
“3D printing gives an extra level of versatility to the R&D department and is a real asset to the mechanical design and development process,” said Ollie Aylett, Mechanical Systems Engineer at ITL Group. “From prototype design variations in an instance to end use fixtures and fittings it has transformed the way we bring products to life.”
The LSAM (Large Scale Additive Manufacturing) was introduced two years ago, a large-scale 3D printer/CNC machine hybrid. Its build volume is 10′ x 40′ x up to 100′, and it has two gantries – a print gantry, which fabricates the part at slightly larger than final size, and a trim gantry, which uses a CNC router to trim the part down and finish it.
“LSAM is intended for industrial production. It is not a lab, evaluation or demonstration machine, but is instead a full-fledged industrial additive manufacturing system intended for the production of large scale components,” Thermwood says of the system.
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