"Digitally manufacturing the fixture with
polycarbonate took it from eight pieces to one,
more accurate piece that lines up."
Newsletter December 2009
In this issue:
Life-Size Prototype: Turbo Prop Aircraft Engine
Unveiled last week at Autodesk University 2009, the full-scale turbo prop aircraft engine wowed the audience.
A million dollars is a substantial cost savings. That's why engineers and manufacturers alike are using RedEye On Demand to produce large prototypes.
About the Turbo-prop Aircraft Engine Model
If you were at Autodesk University 2009 last week, you couldn't miss our giant, full-scale turbo-prop aircraft engine model. This large prototype set a new precedence in scale, showcasing 3D printing's potential.
The engine's design was created by Nino Caldarola using Autodesk Inventor 2010 mechanical design and engineering software, and it was produced by RedEye on both Fortus 3D Production Systems and Dimension 3D Printers.
"Our Inventor software combined with FDM technology takes design innovation to an entirely new level of sophistication," says Autodesk’s Gonzalo Martinez, office of the CTO. "Today at Autodesk University we've shown that with FDM, you can create realistic 3D models of nearly any design. We believe that Stratasys FDM technology is the future of 3D printing and production."
The engine's gear box includes two sets of gears, which operate two sets of propellers that move in counter rotation to each other. With an engine length of over 10 feet, a blade-span of 10.5 feet, and 188 components, the engine model is massive in size. It includes several large parts, such as six propeller blades, each measuring 4.5 feet long.
The turbo-prop engine was designed by Nino Caldarola, a freelance designer for Autodesk. Assembling a physical model helps design engineers be certain of component form, fit, and function. Building this physical model with FDM helped improve its design by identifying four opportunities to make change components to make them fit or operate with better precision.
97% Cost Reduction; 83% Time Reduction
All 188 components were produced in 4 weeks and assembled in 2.5 weeks for a total production time of 6.5 weeks. Using conventional fabrication processes, such as machining and casting (with in-house and outside resources) a manufacturer would expect to spend 9 months or more producing a model like this. Using the FDM process in-house, a manufacturer could expect costs of roughly $25,000, versus an estimated $800,000 to $1 million for conventional processes. These numbers represent about a 97% reduction in production costs and 83% reduction in production time.
With conventional fabrication processes, the full gearbox assembly would be composed of metal. For this turbo-prop model, the components were produced from ABS plastic, which provided the strength to support the large, heavy gear assembly. The model was built in Minneapolis and shipped across the country, which made a tough, durable construction material essential.
"It was spectacular seeing my computer design brought to life with a 3D model," says Caldarola. "I worked under a tight timeline and across geographies with both Stratasys and Autodesk, and I am very proud of the collaborative process and result. Just a few years ago, a project of this scale would have never been attempted."
"This project shows that 3D printing has made the progression to large format," says Stratasys CEO, Scott Crump. "Hopefully this project will help make manufacturers aware that a designer can conceive and design a product this significant, and then have it physically modeled in about 6 weeks."
After creating complex models with additive fabrication, manufacturers can then use the CAD files to create perfect-mating jigs and fixtures to support production processes. "Having a full-scale physical model is a powerful communication tool for both the production-machining and production-tool-creation processes," says Crump. "And manufacturers can realize incredible ROI for both of these processes."
Semi-Translucent Thermoplastic: ABSi
(Methyl methacrylate / Acrylonitrile / Butadiene / Styrene / Copolymer)
The tail light pictured above was produced from ABSi, a common thermoplastic used to produce products that require strength & semi-translucency.
ABSi is not your typical ABS. Although they share many similar material conditions, ABSi offers higher impact strength, flexural stress and a semi-translucent appearance. These unique characteristics make it a great choice for many manufacturers, especially those in automotive and medical industries.
Some of the most common applications include: tail light lenses, parking lights, medical flow meters, illuminated plastic connectors and a variety of high tech consumer products. Most medical manufacturers choose ABSi for prototyping new products that require the measurement of light transmission or liquid flow.
Fun Facts: Opaque, Translucent & Transparent
Opaque. Most plastics used to produce new products are opaque, not allowing light to pass through their surfaces. For opaque parts, light is either reflected or absorbed and converted to heat. Transparent. When light encounters transparent materials, almost all of it passes directly through. Think glass. You can see right through to the opposite side.
Translucent. When light strikes a translucent part, it scatters, changing directions many times before some of it passes through. Therefore, you cannot clearly see through translucent parts. Objects on the other side of the translucent plastic parts can be seen, but appear a bit fuzzy and unclear.
Material specifications vary not only on the supplier of plastic, but on the process you choose to manufacture your parts.
Our digital manufacturing services create ABSi plastic parts using Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology. The material specifications below show you what you can expect when creating production parts to prototypes at RedEye On Demand.
Tolerances. ABSi is a dimensionally stable material.
Tensile Strength¹. 5,400 psi (37 MPa)
Tensile Elongation. 3.1%
Flexural Stress. 8,830 psi (61 MPa)
Izod Impact, notched. 1.9 ft-lb/in (101.4 J/a)
Flame Classification. HB³
Heat Deflection Temperature @ 66 psi. 188° F (87° C)
Rockwell Hardness. R108²
Maximum Build Dimensions. 23.6" x 19.7" x 23.6" (larger parts can be built in pieces and bonded together)
Accuracy. +/- .005 inch or +/- .0015 inch per inch, whichever is greater (+/- .127mm or +/- .0015mm per mm whichever is greater. Note: Accuracy is geometry dependent.
Wall Thickness. To produce optimal translucent parts in ABSi plastic, you should design wall thicknesses at 0.04 to .1 inches (1.016 to 2.54 mm).
o You may produce ABSi parts with a minimum wall thickness as low as .028 inch successfully, however; it is geometry dependant.
Part thicknesses greater than an inch are easily achievable.
Radiusing. ABSi is not a notch-sensitive material; however, radiusing the corner of an ABSi part created via FDM improves its strength by distributing corner stresses over a broader area.
Inside corner radiuses should be limited to not less than 25% of the part's wall thickness.
For maximum strength the radius should be 60% of wall thickness. Larger radiuses can be specified, but this will not significantly increase part strength.
It's a good idea to apply the same design techniques as you would to injection molded parts; however, the FDM build process allows you the design freedom to create straight non-radiused areas as needed.
Draft Angles. ABSi parts can be created with no draft angle.
The FDM build process allows you the design freedom to create the part for its intended application without the worries of how it’s going to be manufactured.
Cavities & Internal Features. You can create holes, cavities and internal features of almost any size with ABSi.
Uniquely, the FDM build process allows you to build internal features that snake around the inside of the part and virtually any depth.
¹Tensile strength data is based on ASTM standard D-638
²Rockwell hardness data is based on ASTM test method D785
³UL94 testing method used to determine flame classification
History of Telecaster®
ABS-M30, a frequently used engineering - grade thermoplastic, was used to create the custom guitar featured in this video.
1950, the Telecaster was the first commercially distributed solid-body electronic guitar. Manufactured by Fender, its simple design and revolutionary sound set trends in electric guitar manufacturing and popular music. Fender's streamlined design was geared to mass production, and made servicing broken guitars easier.
Similarly, the technology offered at RedEye is transforming plastic part manufacturing. Fused Deposition Modeling® (FDM) allows manufacturers to produce durable, low-volume plastic parts without machining, mold tooling, jigs to hold the work in place, fixtures or much manual intervention - all things that dramatically add to the cost of today's traditional manufacturing processes.
Is Digital Manufacturing Right for You?
To find out, we suggest targeting applications that have one or more of these four attributes:
Low Production Volume
High Design Complexity
High Probability of Change
Any Start Up Investment
Low Production Volume
A prime factor in determining if digital manufacturing is suitable for a company's manufacturing needs is the projected annual production volume. DDM is most appropriate for parts produced in quantities of less than 3,000 per year. This is one reason that DDM is increasingly used in applications for jigs, fixtures and other tools used in the assembly process.
For example, a large automotive manufacturer may produce hundreds of custom tools but need only 30 to 40 of each design. DDM can help such manufacturers avoid the high costs and lengthy waiting times involved in traditional methods such as machining injection molds or in bidding out that work.
Manufacturers producing components in low volumes can benefit in similar ways. DDM can be the long-term solution that offers an ability to dynamically adjust production plans, production schedules and inventory levels to meet the fluctuating demands of the market.
In the parlance of lean manufacturing, digital manufacturing becomes a just-in-time solution that is not bound by conventional rules that dictate economic order quantities, batch sizes or on-hand minimums.
High Design Complexity
Although DDM can be used to produce simple objects, the cost and time advantages are more pronounced when parts have complex shapes, intricate designs or numerous features.
Parts produced with FDM technology are insensitive to design complexity. Building material up layer-by-layer to complete the part eliminates problems such as creating internal cavities and complicated 3D contours. Parts can also be built without drafts, radiuses or fillets, which are features required for molded parts. Also, it doesn’t require the part to be set up or refixtured multiple times. However, parts requiring very tight tolerances (greater than ±0.005 inch) may require additional finishing work.
High Probability of Change
Design changes can be expensive and time-consuming when using traditional subtractive manufacturing processes.
With DDM you can manufacture a revised design at will. You simply modify the CAD data and upload your file to print. There is no additional cost for rework or retooling, and there is no interruption in production schedules.
DDM also serves as a bridge to production because it provides flexibility to change a product’s design after its launch. This also explains why manufacturers of custom products, such as those in the medical and dental fields, have been early adopters.
Any Startup Investment
All subtractive manufacturing processes involve substantial investment of labor, time and money for toolpath creation, fixtures, tooling, molds and machinery.
For example, a single injection mold can cost $75,000 or more and take anywhere from 8 to 16 weeks to manufacture. FDM has no tooling costs, and the waiting period for the first production parts may amount to only a few hours.
This not only minimizes new-product startup investment, but can translate to better cash flow, improved profit and decreased debt for a company. Lowering the initial investment also opens the door to more product introductions.
The next time you consider manufacturing methods for your new product, try DDM services by RedEye On Demand. The use of our services is growing because we can save you time and cut costs compared to traditional manufacturing.
Zaha Hadid Cityscape
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