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”