I’ve been involved in a discussion on a LinkedIn group about the need to more clearly note when a design is suitable for one of the 3D additive manufacturing/rapid prototyping (AM/RP) process. Some of the comments indicate that more training is needed for designers so that they can better design a part for this process or design a part to take greater advantage of unique design benefits AM/RP offers.
Designers working on parts for AM/RP may need to watch certain aspects of their designs, such as trapped materials, unreachable voids, clearances for moving assemblies, thermal dissipation during build, and so on.
Apparently, there are nuances to designing to AM/RP that are not covered in your typical CAD program. So this discussion is timely. I believe the new AMF format for 3D printing covers some of these concerns, but more companies need to offer it as an alternative to STL files. Most vendors involved with AM are working on integrating AMF into their systems.
In the mean time, 3D Systems Corp. recently introduced a design guide specifically for designers and engineers involved in end-use manufacturing applications using SLS® 3D Production Printers for selective laser sintering applications. The guide covers common sections of designs that an engineer could have printed at www.production3dprinters.com, 3D Systems website that integrates many of the services it has acquired recently.
3D Systems worked with industry leading companies and their digital designers to amass this collection of functional designs along with the tools and instruction that illustrate how to achieve the full potential of SLS® 3D printing.
The SLS ® Plastics Design Guide covers 26 common structures in a design, from axles to bearings, cages, chainmail, gaskets, hinges, and threads. Through illustrations and text, is offers tips on the best way to design for an SLS machine.
“We are pleased to share this powerful collection of 3D content-to-print knowledge reflecting the cumulative wisdom and experience of our innovative customers the world over,” said Kevin McAlea, Vice President and General Manager, 3D Production Printers, 3D Systems. “We are deeply grateful to all of the pioneers, creators and contributors on this exciting publication and look forward to continued collaboration and updates as we expand and share this body of expertise.”
It would be good for every vendor of a specific AM/RP technology to develop a similar guide.
3D Systems Corporation