We managed to get an afternoon out of the office to visit the NEC for TCT Additive Manufacture show last week. It was our first time to TCT this year, however, first impressions were the industry show is changing. In many ways a coming together of aerospace standard scanning and printing systems and the Maker Faire / Hackspace type community.
We know we have been talking desktop printing a little of late, however when we make parts available for download we thought we would share a simple and brief update here. We love the Ultimakers ability to allow us rapid validation of our CAD work , were very impressed with the materials Ultimaker supply also. However there is a plethora of ABS and PLA filament options out there to use from other suppliers. What we found however, is there is a large variation in the spool dimensions. We bought a spool that would not fit the standard bracket. So - we made one ourselves and here it is built only two hours later.
We have always used rapid prototyping as part of our product development process. If we need high accuracy parts made from specific materials, then rapid CNC is the way we would prototype our developing CAD model. If material type is less important we may have chosen from various Rapid prototyping techniques, including SLS ( Selective Laser Sintering ) Parts fused by a laser from a bath of powdered plastic and SLA ( Stereolithography ) Parts activated in layers, by a laser in a bath of photo-active resin. These are all good in their own way, however the machines themselves can cost upto £50k and need constant work 24/7 to be cost effective, if used inefficiently that cost would go on to the customer, which we would never want. While we have world class resources in the UK and Far east for prototyping and small scale manufacture, as noted from our previous post, we were keen to have a desktop solution as part of the open source community for 3D printing. We went to the global community for their recommendation,