Prototyping with 3D Printing

27th October 2021

Prototyping is an essential phase of designing a product or service. It helps teams visualise their goals and test their ideas; it keeps stakeholders in the loop and allows them to interact with the concept; it allows customers to play with the early stages and feed back with their impressions.

Prototyping with 3D printing can simplify your workflow and save time and cost in the process. Here are just some of the specifics to what additive manufacturing brings to the table.

Fine Detail

PolyJet printing can achieve incredible detail. For the J35 Pro, this entails layer thicknesses down to just 18 µm. For models that need to convey very particular geometries, character details, or scaled-down features, this is ideal.

But the detail afforded by the J35 isn’t always purely visual. Take FinMan Fishing Innovations, a Michigan-based fishing equipment company. They utilise 3D printing to make products including the FinMan Fishing Tool. This tool – a kind of Swiss Army Knife for fishers – was given a scale-like texture that not only lent some fitting detail to the product, but also enhanced its grip.

Stratasys’s VeroUltra material can be printed with a range of simulated textures such as leather or fabric. While these give unique aesthetic qualities to a print, they can also be used in a way that is as practical as it is tactile, like in FinMan’s case.

Economical Capacity

3D printing needn’t dedicate itself to one material at a time. The J35 Pro can use up to three build materials simultaneously on its rotating build platform to create multiple items in one print run, without sacrificing time or quality for any of them.

A batch of items can be printed with differing materials and textures in one go, evenly created so that the whole set is finished at the same time. This means that each time the printer is set to run a job, its time can be thoroughly optimised. Those conscious of their energy consumption and the footprint of their business can ensure that an already-inexpensive production method is even more efficient.

When combined with the use of DraftGrey – an affordable Stratasys material that prints quickly – prototyping becomes so manageable and low-impact in terms of time and cost that it can comfortably be employed time and again during design phases.

Simplifying Challenges

Traditionally, certain parts need to be made separately before they can come together and create the whole finished part. With 3D printing, however, the composite piece can be made in one go.

For instance, a storage tub lid can be created using Vero plastics with a bonded seal made from a material such as Elastico. This can be made in a single piece with printers such as the J35 Pro and J55 Prime and their ability to handle multiple materials at once. The flexibility and toughness of the photopolymers also allows for living hinges, completely eliminating the need for adhesives after production.

Product and design R&D is boosted by the ability to directly compared traditionally made pieces with their 3D printed alternatives. Analysis of the material differences can take place to ascertain where certain strengths, weaknesses, and costs in between can be identified.

Simply Secure

3D printing presents security for more than just finances.

Moving intellectual property between companies creates points of weakness where ideas can be leaked or stolen. By producing parts in house using CAD-based files with secure software, information can be better protected and secured.

Whenever files are not needed, they can be stored in a secure server, for retrieval as and when they become necessary. This ‘digital stockroom’ can be a big relief to businesses that are hoping for an easier way to manage their resources. Using computer files and only needing physical space for material cartridges, additive manufacturing represents a smarter, leaner form of prototyping and production from the ground up.

Find out more about 3D printing today. Speak to our experts at Stratasys Platinum Partner SYS Systems to hear about the possibilities for your business.

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