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3D Printing Service - How ?
3D Printing Service

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3D Printing - How does it work ?
3D Printing & Rapid prototyping.

3D Printing is an evolution of "Rapid Prototyping" technologies which have been used by product designers and manufacturers for many years.

The advent of 3D printers, some based in part on ink-jet printing technology is helping bring 3D printing within reach of all businesses and the general public.

Some of the key benefits of 3D printing over existing rapid prototyping technologies is accuracy, surface finish and durability. Your design is built in 3 dimensions in a series of very fine layers.

A series of flat 'x, y' horizontal layers is printed and once each layer is complete the build platform holding your part moves down fractionally ( the 'z' axis ) allowing the new layer to be added. This is repeated until your part is built.

Our profesional grade 3d printing machines typically use 2 types of material. A 'build' material forms the finished part PLUS a 'support' material that literally supports the build material as it's cured from soft to hard.

The support material is removed during finishing to leave the complete part created in the build material.

Low cost consumer machines typically use the same build material for supports which is then broken off.

Software

Parts and objects are initially created digitally in software. You can access a range of software tools via the web, from the Free to complex professional tools. Once you have a digital version of your part it should be saved as a .STL file ready for 'printing'.

3D scanning offers a process to convert real world items into digital files for modification or replication.

In addition to design software there are several excellent .STL file viewers and .STL file checkers available for download which you can find with a google search.

.STL Files

 

The preferred digital file format for most 3D printing and rapid prototyping services is the .STL file which is arguably the industry standard.

You should be able to export an .STL file of your 3D design in the software you are creating working in.

In simple terms a representation of your design is saved as a series of tiny triangles. 3D printed parts are generally created from a single material. The material usually imparts the colour of your part so .STL files do not contain colour information.

We would strongly reccomend checking your exported .stl files using one of the .STL file viewers mentioned in the linked article.

3D Printing

Once you are happy with your .STL file send it to us. We'll get back to you with a quote and when you are ready to go ahead we'll print your part. The price we charge is based on the amount of material used and the time required to print the object.

Prior to printing we check your .STL file for errors, and fixes are applied where possible.

Depending on the intended use of your part you have a choice of 3D printing types. Our standard service is perfect for parts intended for visualisation where a smooth surface finish is required. Parts are printed at high resolution, typically in white with 30 micron (very fine!) layers. Our service can even create your designs where they include moving parts and very fine tolerances.

Finishing

Once the 3D printing process is complete the part is removed from the machine and finished. Depending on the process used this mostly involves the removal of unwanted support material, and packing ready for despatch.

3D printed parts are delivered ready to be painted or dyed. We typically ship parts using an overnight courier service.

   

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