Feb 3, 2016 | By Benedict
As most of our readers will know, 3D printing can be incredibly useful for creating one-of-a-kind items, since it allows makers to cut out the time and expenditure required to employ an external manufacturer. When 3D printing and traditional injection molding are compared side by side, one can see advantages and disadvantages to each: 3D printing can be easily carried out in one’s own living room and allows for intricate internal architectures that cannot be produced via other methods. Injection molding, on the other hand, generally requires larger and more complex machinery, but—once that machinery is in place—is a far quicker and more cost-effective way of mass-producing simple parts. What’s more, injection-molded parts can have smoother, more consistent textures than their 3D printed equivalents.
Lafras Henning, a South African maker and self-employed entrepreneur of 23 years, wanted to combine 3D printing with injection molding to give regular people the advantages of both production methods. After some head-scratching, the community-focused maker realized how he could achieve this goal. The solution was Many-Maker, the perfect 3D printing accessory for the cheap and rapid mass production of plastic parts.
“Every maker, inventor and engineer knows that 3D printing is great for making prototypes,” Henning explained. “But after the prototype is made, you struggle to commercialize those prototypes because 3D printing is too slow and costly for production runs, and the long lead time, high cost and risk of the injection molding tools prevents quick and easy access to industrial injection molding processes.”
The Many-Maker solves these problems by fusing 3D printing with injection molding, allowing desktop makers to start an injection molding production line—right on their desktop. The time-saving process uses inexpensive mold tools cast in high temperature hard silicone from 3D printed mold masters. “Many-Maker is the ultimate 3D printer accessory as it can reproduce your creations without days worth of printing, hand finishing or expensive filament,” Henning enthuses on the Many-Maker Indiegogo campaign page.
According to Henning, the Many-Maker can offer huge cost reductions to makers seeking to produce many copies of a single print. A 14-day 3D print job can be completed in just 10 hours using the Many-Maker accessory, with a $20 filament cost reduced to just $2 of plastic pellets. These significant savings can help amateur manufacturers to make healthy profits, should they wish to make a business out of selling their 3D designed parts.
Operation of the Many-Maker 3D printing accessory consists of five steps. The first step, familiar to all makers, is the 3D design of a prototype part. Makers design their component, 3D print it, then test it, repeating the process over and over until the design is perfect. The second step requires makers to prepare the master print in their CAD package by splitting the part in half on the “hairline” then attaching the two parts to the Many-Maker molding template, adjusting the sprue, gates, runners, vents, and ejection pins as needed before 3D printing the completed master tools. The third step is the refinement of these master tools according to the required print quality for each copy. The fourth is to cast the mold tool by inserting the two halves of the part into the Many-Maker mold tool base, before mixing and injecting the molding compound. The final step involves setting up the injection mold press and run, after which makers can leave the Many-Maker to carry out its duplication process unattended.
To suit a range of needs and budgets, Henning is offering the Many-Maker in three different models, Pro ($1199), Automatic ($699), and Manual ($399), each at a special Early Bird price. Shipping costs will depend on the success of the Indiegogo campaign. Should Henning raise $50,000, the Many-Makers will be sea-freighted in bulk to the US and then redistributed; should he raise $100,000, manufacturing will be moved to the US, which will result in much lower shipping costs for US customers. As long as the campaign reached its target goal of $25,000, the first machines will be shipped in July 2016.
Posted in 3D Printer Accessories
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