How 3-D Printing Actually Works
Imagine you’ve decided to re-organize your closet, but instead of leaving your house, travelling all the way to the store, measuring the storage bins that are available, all you need to do is enter the measurements of the bin into your computer and print them out right there! For us, a leading prototype design firm, this is our reality. We regularly use 3-D printers to create prototypes, evaluate functionality and improve product 2.0’s. So here’s a quick overview of the different ways our prototype design firm and consumer hobbyists use 3-D printing.
3-D Printing for Our Prototype Design Firm
The most common form used by a prototype design firm uses inkjet technology where nozzles in a 3-D printer move back and forth dispensing a fluid. Instead of ink, these printers dispense thick waxes and plastic polymers, which solidify to form each new cross-section of the object.
Binder 3-D Printing:
This version uses two separate materials that come together to form each printed layer: a fine dry powder plus a liquid glue, or binder. Binder 3-D printers make two passes to form each layer. The first pass rolls out a thin coating of the powder, and the second pass uses the nozzles to apply the binder. This version of 3-D printing tends to be faster, which for any prototype design firm is always a plus. Another major advantage is you can incorporate a wide variety of materials like metals and ceramics.
A 3-D printing technology whereby drops of a liquid plastic are exposed to a laser beam of ultraviolet light, which converts the liquid into a solid.
Selective Laser Sintering:
SLS relies on a laser to melt a flame-retardant plastic powder, which then solidifies to form the printed layer. One of the biggest advantages of SLS is the high level of precision it can achieve. As a prototype design firm, we require incredibly precise prototypes for our clients, especially those in the medical and safety fields whose products are literally life savers.
3-D printing is becoming more and more common, expanding from industrial users like us, to consumer hobbyists like you. Let us know which 3-D printing method you’ll use!
Article Author: MAKO Design + Invent
MAKO Design + Invent is a full-service consumer product development firm servicing both high-growth corporate manufacturers and invention startups. With a 25-person team across 3 offices (Austin, England, Toronto), MAKO has complete in-house industrial design, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering design and prototyping services. To assist our start-up inventor clients, we also have a subsidiary branch called Mako Invent that, in addition to above, helps start-ups with patenting, strategy, marketing, and sales/distribution for all consumer product categories. For our corporate clients, MAKO Design develops world-class consumer electronics designs through our industrial, mechanical, and electrical design teams.
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