We recently showcased the new Raise3D large format machine capable of printing up to 305x305x610mm parts and it wasn’t long before the first order arrived to test it!
A customer contacted me with their own design for a race car dashboard which needed to be printed in as few pieces as possible using ABS plastic. We worked on the design a little to cut down on cost but also improve the printability of the design and the end result is both a great looking print and a very happy customer!
We’re continuing to invest in the print farm at Midlands 3D and have now added the awesome Raise3D N2 Plus to the line up. The new machine will enable much larger print volumes up to 305x305x610mm and greatly improve the number of available materials.
To-date, we’ve been focused on volume capability with a line up of 12 identical machines producing both PLA and ABS batches and 2 further machines dedicated to more complex print jobs. Having previously needed to turn away work which would have required printing a part in multiple pieces, the new machine will enable larger print jobs to be completed in one piece.
Quality isn’t compromised either with layer resolution between 0.01-0.25mm and positional accuracy to XY-axes: 0.0125 mm, Z-axis: 0.00125 mm.
Since mid 2016 we’ve listed 3d printing services on www.3dhubs.com, the worlds largest network of manufacturing hubs spanning over 140 countries. Recently 3D Hubs launched a new service ‘fulfilled by 3D Hubs’ which offers a seamless transaction process for the customer by letting 3D Hubs choose the most appropriate hub for your order from a limited list.
Only the very best hubs are invited to apply to become a manufacturing partner and even then must be able to deliver the highest quality and service expected. I’m pleased to say we’ve done it!
From today, we are now fulfilling orders directly for 3DHubs. It’s immensely rewarding to know our 5 start rating, fast turnaround and consistently highly rated print quality has been recognised by 3D Hubs and I can’t wait to see how this great opportunity will help drive continued growth for Midlands 3D.
3D printing is still a largely un-tapped resource and with companies often jumping to the conclusion that injection moulding is the only option, organisations are missing a huge opportunity.
“3D printing is for one-off prints or prototyping”….. well, maybe, but have you seriously considered the form vs function of the parts you need? Do they really need to be perfect to the eye or would a more balanced view of form vs function (and cost!) equally suit its purpose? Don’t get me wrong, 3d printers these days aren’t throwing out ugly looking blobs of plastic when printed correctly and I’m more and more blown away by the quality of even the budget end FDM printers on the market, but my point is, do you really need to make such a huge financial commitment to have your parts injection moulded?
I recently developed a camera bracket for a commercial vehicle telematics company. The brief was simple, it needs to be strong, adjustable and small…..perfect! The mass produced injection moulded brackets they’d been using were hit and miss, and not really tailored for the varying applications the company needed them for. They were also too large for the job. A few hours later and with some prototype prints in my hand, I sent a custom bracket to the client complete with their company logo embossed into the print and a quote per part. A few refinements later and on-demand, the company receives 100 brackets within 48 hours….no stock commitment, no up-front investment other than the 3d modelling and ultimately no writing off of old stock when the new model camera comes out.
My point here is the part in question needed to work, look acceptable for the application it was to be used in, and not require the kind of investment that can cripple a small business without the funds to invest or hold large volumes of stock. Although the part works out slightly more expensive than the injection moulded equivalent, these were universal un-branded parts not designed specifically for their application and requiring significant stock holding.
We’re actually talking about hyper-personalised manufacturing. We are taking a specific requirement and making it viable to have that part manufactured on-demand, from one part to one thousand or more parts. Whether it is personalisation of a product for marketing purposes, flexibility of design and investment for fledgling startups, or satisfying the growing demand for a product which hasn’t quite reached the volumes required for financial viability of injection moulding, 3d printing is increasingly seen as a viable solution. Lets not forget too, that 3d print technologies are often enabling the use of designs and materials not possible via traditional manufacturing methods.
The message is simple, the balance of personalisation, on-demand manufacturing and low initial investment when compared to the ‘finish’ of the final product, may surprise you. 3d printing is increasingly used for production run part manufacture and not just prototyping.
A regular customer recently asked if I could re-work a design to make it more cost effective for 3d printing at scale and I was more than happy to oblige! The part in question was a universal bracket for mounting security and in-vehicle cameras. As ever, it was a design that didn’t really warrant the investment needed for injection moulding given the regular introduction of new cameras to the market and 3d printing is the perfect gap-fill. I’ve printed hundreds (…in fact thousands) of them over the past few months, and all are now at work in commercial vehicles across the country, however it was time for an update.
Smaller, Faster to print and more economical to print…… simple!
Designing with 3d printing in mind up-front can make a significant difference to the speed and subsequent cost of a 3d print. Avoiding the need for support material, sizing and orientating for the greatest number of parts on a print run, all have a huge impact on print time. With a target of a 50% cost reduction, even with the addition of a bolt and nyloc nut to improve strength and adjustment options, the new part was a hit.
I recently upgraded all of the machines in the print farm to a much better print bed which reduces variation in print quality and makes setting up the machines much simpler. The new upgrade is my own design and I have a few plates left to sell.
If you own a Wanhao i3 v2.1, i3 Plus, Maker Select or any other like for like copy versions of this printer, this is a very worthwhile upgrade.
Buy online from Midlands 3D HERE
My installation video is on YouTube HERE
One of our first customers, Matrix Telematics needed a simple but effective method of ensuring the wiring on the back of their commercial dashcams couldn’t be removed by the vehicle driver. We worked with the customer to refine their idea into a 3D model which could be printed at scale, minimise material usage and ultimately ensure the part was as cost effective as possible without affecting performance.
Volumes were initially low as we prototyped the design, and having completed the trials we now supply both the manufacturer and their network of re-sellers with stock on-demand.
Ok, so maybe a slight exaggeration as technically I’m still waiting for my pre-release version of the new Wanhao D7 resin SLA printer to be shipped to me, but can’t wait to see what it can do. Here’s a test print from one of the lucky few who have received theirs already…..and yes, that is on the end of a finger tip! All being well, mine arrives in about 4 weeks.
Believe it or not, this little test print is printed with carbon fibre infused filament. Whilst the surface isn’t 100% glossy, the parts weighs a fraction of the equivalent plastic piece and are very strong making them perfect for many applications. Carbon fibre prints have been used extensively in applications subject to heat such as car engine bays where there has even been an example of a fully 3D printed inlet manifold for a race application.
We’ve now modified two of our printers to be able to print this great new material and are happy to discuss your requirements.
A little over three years ago I entered the world of 3d printing which combined a whole host of the things I love to do, designing things, making things and the possibility of selling things. A lot has changed in those three years and its an eternity in the fast paced development of 3d printing. What started off as one second-hand, home made printer churning out pretty useless and often unrecognisable star wars characters (I’m not even that big of a fan) for the shelf, is now a farm of 5 semi-professional printers serving individuals and businesses with great quality prints with an ever increasing volume per print run.
I’ve never been one for sitting on an opportunity though, and when the opportunities to print more and more have come to me it has been a case of ‘say yes and then figure out how you’re going to deliver’ or words to that effect, which are spoken by Mr Branson in one of his books. Love him or hate him, he has his own island….I don’t!
So, why look at a technology that has been around for quite some time now? Well, 3d printing technology has progressed significantly in the last 10 years or so. With the improved quality and availability of materials such as PLA, through to more specialist carbon fibre impregnated materials, the potential of using these mid-level machines for producing functional and decorative parts for end-user applications is now a reality. When you mix the ever increasing desire for customisation and product personalisation, an explosion of designers, inventors and startups wanting to take their own unique products to market and the capability to turn an idea to a physical product in a matter of hours, you have the makings of a pretty strong case for satisfying these needs with 3d printing at scale.
So, there you have it…. the makings of….well, lets just see. First things first, I need to make some space for all these new printers!