Jan 28, 2015

High precision 3D printers maker Solidscape, a subsidiary of Stratasys, has announced a partnership with LSR's Design Studio. LSR is a global leader for enabling advanced wireless technology platforms with product design, from inception through manufacturing. The two companies have developed a new mold-making process that will disrupt current prototyping methods by speeding time to market and save on machining expensive metal parts. Additionally, Solidscape and LSR have teamed up to bring a wearable product to market, highlighting the process of going direct from digital file to finished casting.

Earlier this year, Solidscape released the MAX2 3D printer, a fully automated printer that allows any skill level to effectively produce high-precision wax patterns with its Smooth Curvature Printing technology. Customers can create wax patterns to be cast in metal or used for mold making (RTV) applications.

By combining Solidscape's high precision printing with LSR's silicone or metal mold making process, prototypes can be created in less than two weeks, compared to the typical five to six weeks needed to create most new plastic or metal parts.

"We're excited to collaborate with LSR on this new venture and to take rapid prototyping to the next level," said Solidscape's President, Fabio Esposito. "With this new disruptive process, users can now go directly from machine to molding, expediting the time it takes to go to market."

The Solidscape process is additive and subtractive. It lays down a very thin layer of build and support materials then mills off each layer, creating high resolution parts up to 5,000 x 5,000 x 8,000 (x,y,x) dpi. Solidscape's high precision 3D printed wax patterns enable LSR to accurately produce fine details and a smooth surface finish for complex geometries. The prototyping experts at LSR can go directly to silicon tooling or to cast metal parts without the traditional tedious hand finishing of rapid prototype parts.

"We compressed our product development process considerably on a recent program. We've gone from weeks of machining time and $4,000 per set of metal parts, to under two days and $200. This was earth shaking for us as well our customer," said LSR's 3D Lab Manager Jim Hollister.

"The parts created out of silicone tooling, when done correctly, will be the best you will ever see," asserts Hollister.

A recent case study was done for an iPhone compatible smart wearables product, where cost per unit dramatically dropped by replacing parts previously machined from brass with Solidscape's lost wax castings. According to Solidscape, the results included:

  • Less finishing time than milled metal parts
  • Parts fit together better, perfect tolerances
  • Metal mold face cast from Solidscape's 3D printed molds
  • Crisp and amazing detail
  • Consistent quality on run of parts
  • Less expensive, from $4,000 to under $200 per set of metal parts
  • Much faster process
  • Ability to make design changes without expensive tooling revisions or machining
  • Ability to cast in any metal, allowing complete design flexibility
  • Production worthy first articles for design review

"Our goal is to make better quality parts than production," asserts Hollister. "So a high quality 3D printed pattern directly relates to less finish time and better results." Those results include happy customers, reduced costs, higher profits and shorter lead times.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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