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Summary - 3D printers


Summary - 3D printers

I have received a huge response to the 3D printer question. Several
variables must be resolved before arriving at a purchase decision.

* Type of prototypes required. Strength, accuracy, detail
* Types of materials required. Some machines utilize a variety of
materials while others only offer one.
* Adjustability of machine software. Accuracy in X, Y, and Z
* Maintenance involved in material handling, machine cleaning,
prototype curing, and support material dissolution.

The costs range of the recommended machines is 35K to over 150K.

As with anything, once your personal variables are defined, you get what
you pay for when attempting to satisfy them.

Thanks for everyone's input.

Tim Cauley

Sr. Product Designer

Trane Residential Systems

Tyler, TX. 75707

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Sorry I'm jumping in a bit late. But I went thru this study myself about 2
years ago and decided to buy a 4 axis desktop machining center.

I found that the subtractive method of making prototypes had some real
advantages over the additive such as:

1. I can machine out glass filled plastics / PP / Nylon / Aluminum /
Delrin / polycarbonates / ACTUAL PRODUCTION MATERIALS

2. I can machine out cavities and core and cast my own urethane parts

3. I can machine out sand casting mold patterns out of ren board

4. I can machine out wax patters for investment castings

5. I can machine tolerances to within a few thousands of an inch

6. Pretty good machining centers starting at about $30,000 that can do
parts 19" x 26" x 6" (no additive process even comes close)

7. Great surface finishes. No post cleaning up or sanding

8. The tool path software is really simple to use, if you're used to
the common tooling rules you'll learn fast.

The down sides to the subtractive process are:

1. Undercuts can be a pain in the butt (you'll really try your best
not to design them into your parts.. Which is good all around)

2. A little more of a learning curve. However I have gotten pretty
comfortable and didn't know that much to begin with

3. Not so good to keep in the office next to your desk. You'll want
to put it in a shop.

4. 4-5" in rib patterns can be difficult to machine out (note this is
why tool makers machine out electrodes in progressive stages)

Also another advantage to learning how to run a machining center is that it
will make you a much better designer. Actually knowing how the tool maker
will have to get in there to machine out details will give you a real sanity
check when doing your pro/e modeling

Well, that's my 2 cents,

Paul Elhardt

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