CAD files are used to control the production of prototypes and other items by the following methods:
We can accept files in most of 3D formats, the most common printable format being the .stl file. We will always inspect and advise you on the print before committing to production. We also have a range of FDM machines available in The Byte Digital Maker Space.
Objects produced by AM often require finishing using subtractive, machine techniques to produce the final item.
Subtractive manufacture uses common workshop tools such as CNC, lathes and drills to remove (subtract) material from a starting item to produce a finished model. We offer limited capabilities in this area for finishing and post-processing. Our extensive facilities and expertise concentrate on additive manufacture (AM) in which filament, curable resin or powder is fused into the desired form.
We can also offer other post-processing technologies such as heat treatments to complement our metal AM facilities.
Technology: EOS P110 for SLS in PA2200, SoftTouch (flexible) materials and Alumide, a metal-like nylon polymer.
Use: Powder bed fusion is the method of choice for robust components capable of being used in demanding environments. Polymers like polyamide, PA2200, nylon produces rigid, tough items with almost as much detail as SLA resins but that can withstand daily use. This is selective laser sintering (SLS) in which the powder is melted by a precise laser to form the intended object.
Technology: Formlab and Projet SLA machines
Use: It can form objects in a range of materials including tough, clear polymers, dental materials and castable ‘waxes’ to enable jewellery or fine scale model design and manufacture. SLA models can include much detail but materials are brittle so the technique cannot often be used for working parts.
Technology: Filament deposition method (FDM) that uses polymer filament (polylactic acid or polylactide (PLA), a thermoplastic polyester derived from renewable resources) forced though a heated nozzle to form 3d models in colourful polymers.
Use: The method is capable of quickly producing low-cost concept models and pre-prototypes. The technique is often used to introduce people to ‘3D thinking’.
Technology: Renishaw AM400 and AM500
Use: It can produce prototypes in medical stainless steel and titanium. Although costly, it can produce the fine, intricate objects designed by algorithmic software in ready-to-use metals.
Sector: Aerospace, automotive engineering, medical device design and manufacture.