Additive Manufacturing & Rapid Prototyping
What is Additive Manufacturing?
Additive manufacturing refers to the production of components by adding the material layer by layer to create individual components. In contrast to additive manufacturing, classic manufacturing processes such as turning, drilling and milling are used, whereby components are created by the targeted removal of material.
Sometimes, plastic components manufactured by additive manufacturing are very often referred to as "3D printed components". This is probably due to a massive spread in recent years, especially of affordable printers. However, many processes, as well as the additive manufacturing of plastic components themselves, are very old. As early as the 1980s, the foundations and processes for today's 3D printing were developed. The company Solidtec itself started in the mid-nineties with the production of 3D printing components and tools, so it has been closely connected and experienced with 3D printing since its foundation.
Advantages of Rapid Prototyping
The advantages of Rapid Prototyping are mainly in the construction of functional models and in the production of very small quantities or even individual pieces. Whenever something has to be presented on a meeting table very quickly, 3D printing can generate tangible development studies - especially when tool production seems inconceivable for cost reasons or only 1 to 10 pieces are needed.
In principle, almost all conceivable shapes can be implemented with additive manufacturing without having to consider classic principles in component design (undercuts and demoldability, wall thicknesses and material accumulations, manufacturability of the tools for the component). Even components in an early design stage can be produced and tested in this way.
In addition to these rather specific characteristics, additive manufacturing also enables a very short production time to the finished sample.
Frequently asked questions about Additive Manufacturing
In which industries are additive manufacturing parts often needed?
Additive manufacturing components are often used in product development circles. Most of the time this is a discussion for a "proof of concept".
However, it also happens that for certain products auxiliary production aids have to be manufactured. Here, too, 3D printed components can be helpful for gauges and devices for "trying out" in advance, without being exposed to the immense costs right from the start.
In industries that require prototypes for testing (especially of the later series components made of original material), however, tooling components from rapid tooling tools are unavoidable.
Which parts are typically produced with Additive Manufacturing?
Housings (without special surface requirements), fillers, view models, illustrative samples and test pieces for functional checks of e.g. interlocks
How long does it take to produce a part?
This is primarily dependent on the volume of the part, secondarily on the desired surface. A first thumb-reading is 20 ccm/h. Depending on the processing effort, we can guarantee delivery times between 1 and 5 days.
What sizes and shapes are possible?
This depends on the available plant installation space. The maximum sizes are currently 510 mm x 510 mm x 400 mm
Which materials and colours can be processed?
Some of the materials used for plastic 3D printing are epoxy-based, polymer gypsum or PA12 thermoplastics, but these only reflect the actual material characteristics of original injection molded materials to a limited extent.
The colour range is largely unlimited, and in some processes clear components can also be produced.
What are additive manufacturing parts suitable for?
The components can easily be used for non-mechanical tests.
What data is required for the conversion?
We prefer 3D data in STEP format, IGES data can also be converted in some cases.
What does the production of an additive manufacturing part cost?
In direct comparison to Rapid Tooling, the component costs in Additive Manufacturing are many times higher, but there are no initial costs for tools and set-up costs. This means that there is almost always a cost advantage for the additive manufacturing component for small quantities. We would be pleased to provide you with an individual offer.
When is Additive Manufacturing the best solution?
At the Proof of Concept, due to the fast production at low quantities
Up to what quantity does Additive Manufacturing pay off?
For most of the components requested from us up to about 200 pieces. However, this depends very much on the component.
Additive Manufacturing or Rapid Tooling?
Additive manufacturing sounds interesting, but is it not the right thing for your purposes? Then find out more about cost-efficient rapid tooling, which enables us to produce 1,000 parts within 3 days, and prototype injection moulding, which is ideal for small quantities:
To prototype injection moulding
Do you have questions about additive manufacturing, rapid prototyping or one of the other processes? Please contact us: