Welcome to Part 4 of our End-to-End Workflow Series, covering the manufacturing solutions and services available to help your business streamline its operations and reach its manufacturing goals, across additive and traditional manufacturing methodologies.
For any given application, an optimized design is only useful if it can be accurately and efficiently manufactured. Many excellent designs have been compromised over the years to accommodate the manufacturing methods available and the constraints imposed by those processes. Great concepts had no path to become real. Additive manufacturing has changed that, and creating more shapes in more ways is among the most powerful applications of this technology.
An additive manufacturing workflow can optimize parts to make them lighter, better performing, and less cost and labor intensive to produce (through part count reduction and the elimination of tooling, along with the design flexibility and manufacturing agility of the digital process). The tool-less, file to part pathway of additive manufacturing also enables new productivity and cost-efficiency for mass customization and highly complex parts.
Since inventing and first commercializing 3D printing in the 1980s, 3D Systems has worked with our customers to solve their application challenges and connect them with the right 3D printing solutions for their needs. We offer the broadest portfolio of 3D printing technologies under one roof, along with application expertise, software and support to advance project and business goals.
We also offer an expansive and continually growing material portfolio that includes nylons, elastomers, polymers, metal alloys and composites that deliver a wide array of material properties, from flexibility, durability, stiffness, and transparency, to bio-compatibility, high-temperature resistance, corrosion-resistance, lightweightedness and more. Our On Demand Manufacturing services are available across all of our technologies and enable our customers to consult with our experts, outsource their projects, or trial a solution before bringing it in-house.
3D Systems offers additive manufacturing in metal alloys, plastics and full-color solutions, along with a range of traditional manufacturing technologies.
Metal additive manufacturing
3D Systems’ precision metal manufacturing solutions integrate Direct Metal Printing with thoroughly tested print parameters for LaserForm materials, 3DXpert™ all-in-one software, and expert application support.
Direct Metal Printing (DMP) is an additive manufacturing technology in which a high-powered laser scans over a bed of fine metal powder to micro-weld particles in the pattern prescribed by a cross-section of the CAD file. This approach is also referred to as direct metal laser sintering, and enables several engineering and business benefits, including component consolidation, increased performance, and supply chain efficiency, among others. DMP is ideal for producing highly complex shapes in aviation, aerospace, transportation, and motorsports, as well as medical device manufacturing, among others.
3DXpert™ all-in-one integrated metal additive manufacturing software is included at no charge with all 3D Systems metal printers, enabling streamlined file preparation and optimization for a more productive workflow and a lower total cost of operations.
Plastic additive manufacturing
3D Systems’ plastic additive manufacturing technologies address a range of applications from prototyping, to production enablement, to direct 3D production. These technologies include:
MultiJet Printing (MJP): a printing process that uses piezo printhead technology to deposit either photocurable plastic resin or wax casting materials, layer-by-layer. These high resolution printers are economical to own and post-processing is virtually hands-free, enabling delicate and complex features to be printed and cleaned without damage. MJP is ideal for high quality, functional prototypes, jigs, fixtures, indirect manufacturing tools, and direct investment casting applications in jewelry, dental, medical and aerospace.
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS): a high-powered laser selectively fuses powdered material, layer-by-layer. SLS machines are available in large build sizes and compatible with robust materials to enable durable, high-heat and chemically resistant applications. SLS is perfect for functional prototypes, complex end-use parts, and low- to mid-volume production of components, enclosures, and ducting across industries.
Stereolithography (SLA): a UV laser scans over a layer of liquid photopolymer material to build up a part. SLA delivers the gold standard in surface surface and accuracy and is available in large build platforms with high resolution settings. SLA addresses a wide range of rapid manufacturing applications, including prototyping, investment casting and indirect manufacturing.
Entry-Level Industrial: a projector images each layer of a build within a UV-curable, liquid material. Entry-level industrial technology offers precise, cost-efficient printing at fast throughput speeds, with six sigma repeatability. 3D Systems’ Figure 4 and FabPro systems offer projector-based imaging in a configurable production and entry-level system, respectively. This technology is ideal for prototyping, jewelry casting patterns, master patterns for silicone molds, and low volume end-use production of smaller geometries.
3D Sprint™ software is included at no charge with all 3D Systems plastic printers, enabling optimized and accelerated print preparation and lower printing costs.
Full color 3D printing solutions
ColorJet Printing (CJP): a binder is selectively jetted from inkjet print heads onto a powdered core material, causing the core to solidify. The build platform lowers with each subsequent layer, and CMY or CMYK color is applied to the outermost surfaces resulting in a full-color 3D model. CJP printers are available in a range of build sizes and are great for demonstration models, architectural models, and other applications where color serves an aesthetic or communicative function.
3D Sprint™ software is included at no charge with 3D Systems’ ColorJet printers, enabling optimized and accelerated print preparation and lower printing costs.
Traditional manufacturing solutions
3D Systems’ additive manufacturing technologies are complemented by a diverse range of traditional manufacturing capabilities such as CNC machining, urethane casting and injection tooling through the company’s On Demand Manufacturing services. To help manufacturers be more productive, we also offer several traditional manufacturing software solutions, including:
- Cimatron CAD/CAM software for tool, mold and die design
- GibbsCAM scalable CAM system for powerful CNC programming
Whether prototyping or producing end-use parts, we can help you optimize your outcomes and introduce new agility into your process. Click here for more information on our manufacturing solutions and explore the infographic to understand the rest of our end-to-end manufacturing workflow.
Stay Tuned: In our next post we’ll talk about 3D inspection solutions that enable you to ensure quality across your workflow and accurately measure and document parts produced.
Previously in this Series: