Friday, September 05, 2008

Rapid Prototyping - not just for prototypes

We - the group at my work - purchased a rapid protoping machine a few years back. The machine, a Dimension 3D printer, makes parts out of ABS plastic. We do use it for making sample prototypes to show customers. Our main use however is to make functional parts for actual use.

Parts made with it include electronic boxes, mounting brackets, drilling jigs, joystick controller handles. Some sample parts are shown below.

The parts in the photo are clockwise from the top: A sector of a gear for a belt drive mechanism, a locating bushing, an alignment tool, a sensor mounting bracket, and a tubing mounting bracket. All of them except the gear sector designed by me. All of the parts shown went into field use.

A more sophisticated use of the rapid prototyping machine is using it to fabricate molds. Molds are required when an elastomeric part is desired or if the part is to have metal inserts. Below is a picture of a mold and the parts molded in it.

The part molded is an elastomeric mounting bushing for supporting some equipment. The material used in the mold is polyurethane.

A good source for casting material is McMaster Carr. Search for two part casting compounds. Be sure to coat the mold with mold release prior to filling with casting compound.


Anonymous gate valve said...

looks good. looks very sturdy and it seems very durable.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009  
Anonymous CubeSpawn said...

You may (or may not) be familiar with an open source RP machine: the RepRap. ( Its early in its existance, so its still fairly primitive by commercial standards but the project is rapidly evolving... this puts (low quality, for now) RP capabilities in essentially anyones hands for under 1000 USD - as a derivitive project - I have started to address access to other more conventional manufacturing processes, but on the same low cost model...
I invite you to look at the project. You may find it interesting - or it may give you a laugh... ;-)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009  
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