Integrated 3D Printed Handheld Task Light

3D printing can be accomplished using single or multiple materials. The future of the process includes printing integrated circuits, optics, circuit pathways, heat sinks, fixture bodies and enclosures. Robotics, combined with 3D printing stations, can assemble entire products with no fasteners, no seams, and no human interaction, from a bin of raw materials.

The process involves setting up a series of 3D printers that feed into a main printer that is printing a body. At various stages, the printer is paused, and components are installed into cavities, before the printer continues. This can also include potting of cavities, as well as creating wiring vias and paths for conventional wires to pass through. The finished product would have no seams to leak, no intermediate gasketing to fail. It is an integrated assembly that used no glue or seaming of any type, making the final product durable.

This process can be repeated 24/7, with no staff present, other than to keep the material supplies loaded (also done with automation in the local area of the machine.) Customer orders can then move directly from order entry into the production que, with all available selectable options of color, optic, LED power level, CCT, control interface, etc… since the entire fixture is created from software to real world, with none of the conventional inventory of parts, components, etc… through to assembly operations.

A Simple Example to Illustrate the Process

The following is a design and process I created from raw fixture design to printed, in less than 24 hours.

Continue reading “Integrated 3D Printed Handheld Task Light”

The Other Design Revolution in Making – 3D Printing Commercial vs. Affordable Performance Comparison

In 2010 we purchased our first 3D printer, a Dimension bst1200es from Stratasys. My intent from the off was to use it for making functional parts, over pure prototype uses. This meant that the traditional SLA process, which is very costly to own and operate, was not a consideration. I wanted parts made of a material that could stand being put into actual finished goods. This led to FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling). The material it prints is ABS plus, which is an excellent plastic for internal bits as well as structural components, within reason. I wrote a bit on this, with a video link during Week Thirteen of the 52 in 52 project that year. Since then, I have printed literally thousands of parts on this machine. I have guns fitted with stocks and stock parts made from the material, I have a motorcycle loaded with it in various uses, from fender supports to electrical housings. I’ve used it to make trade show light fixtures, sculptures, and holding fixtures for welding and vises on the CNC machining center (another 3D device). For more thoughts on 3D Printing, you can download a copy of  The Real 3D’s of 3D Printing, a presentation I gave on the topic to a 3D printing and maker group.

Recently, in the interest of lowering printed part cost and expand capacity, I added a second 3D printer. Continue reading “The Other Design Revolution in Making – 3D Printing Commercial vs. Affordable Performance Comparison”