Equipment for Rapid Prototyping of Plastic
A path from the idea to the product should be the shortest. Application of rapid prototyping (RP) allows increasing the efficiency of design and engineering production planning.
During new products development there is always a necessity in experimental models, or so-called prototypes of a product, its separate elements and assembly units.
Using prototype models gives an enterprise the following opportunities:
- Marketing and advertising departments can arrange market investigations effectively by demonstrating product prototypes to customers and clients, as well as by using them in advertising campaigns.
- Designers and engineers can easily evaluate the exterior and ergonomics of the product in development, check the assemblage and functionality of its design, and make the necessary changes interactively before the production start-up.
- Production engineers can use the prototypes as consumable patterns, master-models for traditional technological tooling production (for example, casting, molding, etc.), and also rapid sample party production (for example, silicon and epoxy molds), etc.
RP technologies, which allow producing functional prototypes, help to reduce noticeably the production costs of complex geometry parts, required in single or small quantities.
Nowadays a lot of industrial enterprises use FDM Technology for prototypes production. This technology is designed by American company Stratasys, the world leader in RP equipment market.
According to FDMTM (Fused Deposition Modeling) technology, prototypes creation principle lies in layer-by-layer deposition of a fused polymer filament in accordance with the geometry of a part mathematical model, developed in CAD system.
Mathematical model is passed in STL format to the special Software InsightTM or CatalystTM (ОС Windows XP, 2000, NT 4.0), which regulates the operation of FDM equipment. The software orients a model for building in the optimal way, divides it into horizontal layers and estimates the travel paths of the head, which places the filament. If necessary, the program generates supports required for overhanging model parts.
Modeling material is fed through the basic extrusion tip of the head. The second extrusion tip is responsible for sup-port production. As a result, sequential layer growing forms the prototype.
One can produce several parts simultaneously, if they can be accommodated inside a working envelope of the equipment. The prototypes, whose dimensions exceed the working envelope size, can be modelled part by part and then assembled.
Rapid and Simple Model Production
The simplicity of modeling using equipment designed by Stratasys company allows reducing the prototypes production time to several hours (depending on model size). Finished model can be used right after building, for it does not need long subsequent finishing.
Safe Technologies Pollution-free Modeling Materials
Thanks to safe technologies and pollution-free modeling materials, Stratasys equipment operation does not require special conditions. This equipment is normally placed in Design Department offices near the engineers' desks.
Accuracy of prototypes production on Stratasys equipment runs up to 0.127 mm, which can be compared to the accuracy of plastic parts made in usual injection mold.
Various Modeling Materials
FDM equipment works with various modeling mate¬rials: ABS and "medical" ABSi plastics, РС and РС-ISO polycarbonates, mixed PC and ABS plastic, PPSF polyphenilsulfon. These materials advantage lies in their usage in manufacturing of finished products, which ensures pro¬duction accuracy, structural strength and thermal stability of the prototypes and prevents them from deformation, shrinkage and absorption of liquids. These modeling materials can be used for assembly of functional prototypes, capable of bear-ing actual forces.
The equipment standard accessory is ABS of white color, but you can also choose any of 7 colors offered by the company or choose any other color -depending on the customer's wish. In comparison with ABS, РС is characterized by high tensile strength, flexibility and rigidity. Besides, РС and PPSF models are more stable, have higher heat distortion level and durability, which makes it possible to use them in low volume manufacturing. ABS models keep stability at up to 930С, РС models - up to 1250С and PPSF models - up to 1890С (!). РPSF is resistant to antifreeze, motor oil, gasoline and acids. PPSF and ABSi are certified by the Ministry of Health of the USA for medical purposes usage.
After production process finishing one can easily remove support elements from the model - mechanically or by washing them out in an ultrasonic tank filled with special water solution. Technology, which uses water-soluble support, is called WaterWorksTM. This technology is used only by Stratasys company and is implemented almost in all equipment designed by Stratasys. Models built with this technology are smooth, with no scratches or surface marks, and with all the small details kept. WaterWorksTM provides virtually unlimited possibilities to prototype shell-type parts and parts with complicated inner cavities.
Simple Usage and Service
There's no need for the operator to con-trol the modeling process, so the equipment can work at night time and weekends. When the building is finished, the equip-ment forms a message to send by e-mail. The machines are compact, simple and cheap in maintenance: they have no lasers or jet heads, and their mechanical drives are designed for a long term operation.
Wide range of Models
RP technologies are applied both by industrial leaders and by small businesses. That is why Stratasys offers a wide variety of prototyping machines – from 3D printers, which even small companies can afford, up to high-efficiency machines, capable of building enormous parts with the dimensions of up to 600 х 500 х 600 mm (see tables).
According to Wohlers Report for 2006, Stratasys company occupies the 1st place in the world for the total amount of the machines sold. According to Stratasys, the ability to produce functional prototypes, wide variety of modeling materials, safe design, wide range of models and reasonable prices account for grow¬ing popularity of these machines.
3D printers Dimension™ are com¬pact, easy to use and maintain. According to Wohlers Report for 2006, these are the 3D printers with the world's largest sales volume. In January 2007 the release of a new model - Dimension™ Elite - is started. In comparison with other models of the Dimension™ series, this 3d printer is capable of building shell-type parts with thinner ribs and better surface quality. Besides, it uses ABS plus, the new modeling material, which is 40% more rigid and structurally strong than the usual ABS.
|Dimension BST 768||Dimension SST 768||Dimension BST 1200||Dimension SST 1200||Dimension Elite|
|Model build envelope, mm
|Accuracy, ± mm
||up to 0,245||up to 0,245||up to 0,245||up to 0,245||up to 0,178|
||ABS -||ABS +||ABS -||ABS +||ABS plus +|
|Software||Catalyst EX™||Catalyst EX™||Catalyst EX™||Catalyst EX™||Catalyst EX™|
|Machine dimensions (W х D х H),
|Machine weight, kg||136||136||148||148||136|
FDM Vantage™ machines series has a range of capabilities and accuracy of production class. It also has one more feature its owners are interested in: in order to reduce the initial investment, one can purchase the basic model VantageTM i and upgrade it to any of the more perfect models of this series. Moreover, this up-grading can be done straight at the customer's. Thus, upgrading of Vantage™ i to Vantage™ Х allows applying the wide range of modeling materials. Transfer to Vantage™ S with all the capabilities of Vantage™ Х kept will increase efficiency for up to 50%. The most perfect model VantageTM SE will possess the largest work envelope size and the greatest amount of modeling materials types (see the table).
FDM Titan™ has the largest function-al possibilities and the widest range of modeling materials. Apart from all the capabilities of VantageTM prototyping machines, TitanTM allows using additional modeling material - PPSF. It is more flexible, structurally strong, heat- and hostile environment resistant.
FDM Maxum™ is the largest and most efficient machine in Stratasys model range. It is used most effectively for build-ing of large dimension parts (machine picture is given in the beginning, p.80)
|FDM Vantage I / X ABS||FDM Vantage I / X PC||FDM Vantage S / SE||FDM Titan||FDM Maxum|
|Model build envelope, mm
|Accuracy, ± mm
||up to 0,127||up to 0,127||up to 0,127||up to 0,127||up to 0,127|
||ABS / ABS, ABSi,PC-ABS +||PC / PC, PC-ABS, PC-ISO||ABS, ABSi, PC-ABS, PC, PC-ISO +||ABS, ABSi, PC-ABS, PC, PC-ISO, PPSF||ABS, ABSi ++|
||only for PC-ABS|
(W х D х H), mm
|Machine weight, kg
(W х D х H), mm
Stratasys equipment for rapid proto-typing is actively used by world's industrial leaders in car, aviation, medicine, readioelectronic industries, and by home appliances makers. Prototyping machines help them to reduce noticeably the time necessary for model range renewal and thus guarantee the success in competition. These are the leading companies in their fields:
Boeing, Lochheed Martin, Raytheon, Toyota, Volkswagen, BMW AG, Cummins-Allison, Honda, Harley-Davidson, Sony, Panasonic, Hewlett Packard, Xerox, IBM, Canon, Lexmark, Texas Instruments, Bosch, Lego, etc.
Stratasys prototyping machines are also used by such enterprises like: "Krasny Proletariy" (Moscow), "AVTO-PRIBOR Vladimir Plant" (Vladimir), "Birusa" Krasnoyarsk Plant of Refrigerators, "Systema" (Moscow), "ARTI" (Moscow), "Laboratory of 3D Vision" (Moscow), "Kegelman RUS" (Nizhni Novgorod), "Yumirs Company" (Penza), "Ural Radiostations" (Izhevsk), "ENERGOMERA Trust" (Stavropol), "Intelligent Machines" Company" (Kiev), "Arton" (Chernovtsy), etc.
SOLVER Engineering is the official representative of Stratasys Inc. in Russia. Our certified specialists will accomplish the delivery, installation, guarantee and post-guarantee service of Stratasys Inc. equipment, as well as customer specialists training.
To evaluate the quality of FDM-made prototypes, SOLVER specialists can build a test model for you according to your STL-file.