Time in product development is a precious resource and most designers do not have the luxury of waiting around. The most common delay with protoyping in 3D printing is files that are not printable. This results in hours of wasted communication if the manufacturer catches the issues, or days burned if the file goes to print and fails.
We like everyone's work to go smoothly, so we put together the guidelines for the most common 3D printing processes to ensure that your prints will be ready to go. When you're done, you can export your STL file and request a quote.
For small walls, 3D printing shines compared to CNC. however, even 3D printing has it's limitations and each process can only handle a certain size before the walls will crumble during printing or post processing.
Minimum Feature Size
While many 3D printing processes can handle small, delicate features, process like Polyjet and DMLS are not great for delicate features because of how the support is removed. In Polyjet, supports are waterjetted off and in DMLS the excess metal supports must be machined off. Parts with delicate overhanging features are often an issue in FDM because the support material generally has to be ripped off.
For small, delicate features, SLS and SLA are the printing process of choice.
3D printing excells at printing multiple pieces in one, but enough space has to be left so that support material can be removed and/or the pieces don't fuse together.
Embossed or engraved details need to meet the minimum requirements in order to be legible on the part. Using a bold, sans-serif font like Arial bold can help with this.
These are the primary design limitations you need to keep in mind before sending your files out. If you have questions on which 3D printing process is right for your project, contact an Autotiv additive manufacturing specialist at [email protected].