September 26th, 2017
New Materials in 3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping
There have been a number of recent advancements in 3D printing and rapid prototyping. For one thing, 3D and rapid prototyping suppliers now have access to highly advanced equipment that far exceeds prior options. When a supplier uses a rapid prototype machine designed with the latest technology, the finished product is significantly more precise than in the past. This innovative new equipment also helps improve the overall prototyping process and product development speed. In addition to advanced machines, knowledgeable prototype tooling suppliers today have growing access to an exciting array of new materials. The following summarises some of these advances and how they have improved 3D printing, rapid prototyping, and manufacturing services for prototypes.
3D Printing Development
Before covering the new materials used by rapid prototype suppliers, lets look at how the industry has developed. Although first commercialised in 1986, it took many years for this printing option to become mainstream. First commercial industrial uses began in the early 1990’s but users were limited primarily to only the largest of companies due to the high cost of the equipment and materials. In many cases, the technology was managed in R&D functions in these companies and treated as experimental only. Later, a service bureau industry developed offering parts as a service. This greatly added to industry adoption of the technology and usage in day-to-day product development. Focus on material options began to grow. Materials at the time were primarily plastic and photo-curable resin parts. Some of the plastic materials used include:
- Acrylic and Acrylic resins
- Epoxy resins
New 3D Printing Materials
Over time the cost of equipment improved. As affordable 3D printing machines entered the market in the 2000’s, plastics, particularly extruded filament, continue to be the predominant material as they are easy to process and very versatile. Although plastics are still commonly used in both the affordable segment and the high end industrial segment today, there is now an impressive list of emerging materials that are being tested and developed. As a result of more material options, doors of opportunity have opened for more industries, greater design freedom, incredible customisation, and less material waste. Some of the areas in development include:
- Advanced Plastic Filaments (greater options)
- Sand Metallic Thermoplastic Filaments
- Welding Wire Binders
- Metal (includes direct metal and metal matrix options)
- Platinum-Based Metallic Glass
- Conductive Thermoplastic Filaments
- …And many others
Rapid Tooling & Customer Collaboration
GTV, in its work as a prototype lighting supplier, as well as other rapid prototype supplier’s, can utilize these and other new materials as they are developed and proven useful in the development process. Additionally, some of these technologies have potential applications in rapid tooling. Rapid tooling suppliers can assist engineers to identify potential product issues prior to the mass production of parts and the investment in permanent tooling as well as work alongside the design engineers helping refine their designs prior to production.
At Globaltech Ventures, we can help you with 3D printing, rapid prototyping, and manufacturing services for your products. We understand just how critical precision, responsiveness and communication is, regardless of the industry. Our team of experts has the necessary experience and expertise to produce parts to your tight specifications. Using the type of material appropriate for the job, you have assurance that the finished product will meet your expectations. Please visit our website for more information or contact a company representative.