For all the blank stares I get when I talk about 3D printing with family/friends...

At work, I had the opportunity to use a 3D printer as part of our design process. This was another example of Cisco flexing its corporate muscle as they had the budget to print multiple iterations of a model to check the design in physical form. The result can confirm what we thought made sense or make us realize that what we initially presumed as ergonomic to be awkward to hold.

In a nutshell:
It's an expensive process but invaluable (in terms of refining for the final design) to see your design as a true to scale physical form.

During the refinement process, making slight changes to proportions and lines make all the difference. Printing out new iterations after each phase of refinement can save some headache later in the back end of finalizing the product for manufacturing.

Time to geek out:

So after sending off the 3D data to the printer, a software calculates how to physically construct the file. I've learned that standing a product up yields a better appearance.

Here's a screenshot after I've configured the model to stand up. It is not solid in the middle, imagine a lot of tiny cross beams inside. The red color is the actual model and that light purple represents the support material that will hold up the actual model (see pic 03 below).

_01 The printer! It's not a small guy at 6'+ tall. Just like an inkjet printer, a nozzle goes back and forth printing it out inch by inch but in 3D(Printing these models below took 10+ hours due to the size)

_02 Grey = the actual model material / Brown = support material

_03 The result when finished printing: so that brown support material is supports the physical model while its solidifying

_04 The models from pic03 gets dipped in this chemical bath to dissolve away the support material with the help of heat and sonic waves (it buzzzzzs).

It's fun cleaning this out wheeling this downstairs as no one else in the other departments have any clue what this is doing in an office environment. I just say it's for cooking hot dogs. Exactly.

1 Comment:

  1. Tim Ruffner - GPI Prototype said...
    Specializing in:
    *DMLS – Direct Metal Laser Sintering
    *3D Printing
    *RTV Casting and Urethane Molds
    *Laser Scanning
    *Short Run 1-1000 and Prototype

    Tim Ruffner
    Account Executive
    GPI Prototype & Manufacturing Services, Inc.
    940 North Shore Drive
    Lake Bluff, IL 60044
    Phone: 847.615.8900
    Fax: 847.615.8920
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