3D Printing – Plastic
Fused deposition modeling (FDM) was developed by S. Scott Crump in the late 1980s and was commercialized in 1990 by Stratasys. After the patent on this technology expired, a large open-source development community developed and both commercial and DIY variants utilizing this type of 3D printer appeared. As a result, the price of this technology has dropped by two orders of magnitude since its creation.
In fused deposition modeling the model or part is produced by extruding small beads of material which harden immediately to form layers. A thermoplastic filament or metal wire that is wound on a coil is unreeled to supply material to an extrusion nozzle head. The nozzle head heats the material and turns the flow on and off. Typically, stepper motors or servo motors are employed to move the extrusion head and adjust the flow. The head can be moved in both horizontal and vertical directions, and control of the mechanism is typically done by a computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software package running on a microcontroller.
Various polymers are used, including acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polycarbonate (PC), polylactic acid (PLA), high density polyethylene (HDPE), PC/ABS, polyphenylsulfone (PPSU) and high impact polystyrene (HIPS). In general, the polymer is in the form of a filament fabricated from virgin resins. There are multiple projects in the open-sourced community aimed at processing post-consumer plastic waste into filament. These involve machines used to shred and extrude the plastic material into filament.
FDM is somewhat restricted in the variation of shapes that may be fabricated. For example, FDM usually cannot produce stalactite-like structures, since they would be unsupported during the build. Otherwise, a thin support must be designed into the structure which can be broken away during finishing. Fused deposition modeling is also referred to as fused filament fabrication (FFF) by companies who do not hold the original patents like Stratasys does.
3D printable models may be created with a computer aided design (CAD) package or via a 3D scanner or via a plain digital camera and photogrammetry software.
The manual modeling process of preparing geometric data for 3D computer graphics is similar to plastic arts such as sculpting. 3D scanning is a process of analyzing and collecting digital data on the shape and appearance of a real object. Based on this data, three-dimensional models of the scanned object can then be produced.
Regardless of the 3D modeling software used, the 3D model (often in .skp, .dae, .3ds or some other format) then needs to be converted to either a .STL or a .OBJ format, to allow the printing (a.k.a. “CAM”) software to be able to read it.
3D Printing – Metal
3D Systems brings its legendary reliability and repeatability to production-level Direct Metal Printing (DMP) with the ProX™ 300 3D printer.
The ProX 300 3D printer makes additive manufacturing an industrial option for the production of metal parts. The ProX 300 is the largest in our DMP range, offering a build volume of 9.8 x 9.8 x 11.8 in (250 x 250 x 300 mm). It features an automated material loading and recycling system, and supports materials including Maraging 1.2709, Stainless 17-4PH, Ti6Al4V, AlSi12.
The ProX 300 is a high-performance, high-quality alternative to traditional manufacturing processes, offering reduced waste, greater speeds for production, short set up times, very dense parts, and the ability to produce very complex assemblies as a single parts.
Rapid Prototype Casting
Computer models of parts are converted directly to 3D wax patterns that will be used in our investment casting process. Patterns can generally be made in one day, saving the time and money associated with making a metal die. The 3D printer also gives the flexibility to produce multiple variations of a part for evaluation.
Aluminum Alloy Investment Casting
All of our aluminum alloy castings are produce by the use the precision investment casting process, or lost wax process. We can produce intricate detail that many other foundries are unable to produce. All our aluminum alloy casting molds are built exclusively by hand.
We use only the best raw materials that are available in the manufacturing of our aluminum alloy castings.
Aluminum Alloy A356 Casting
Milwaukee Precision Casting, Inc. casts primarily A356 aluminum alloy castings for commercial and industrial applications. Aluminum Alloy A356 is categorized as Cast Aluminum Alloy.