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3D Printing Service

25 January 2011 ...

With famous advertising agency JWT reporting that 3D Printing is one of the ‘100 Things to Watch’ in 2011 and The Daily Mail picking up the story and writing in January that ‘The Factory in a Box’ was on its way into consumers homes, there’s never been so much consumer interest in 3D printing services and printers.  The question is how will that impact on the Additive Manufacturing industry?

Well, better understanding of the principles, can only help and in principle, 3D printing is another ‘branch’ of Additive Manufacturing.  But there are also a number of differences between what we do and what the machines destined for consumers homes can do.

Yes, we start with virtual 3D data, the data is sent to our production machines, the object is built up layer by layer (using powder which is melted using a laser), the excess powder is brushed away and the item is produced.

Like the 3D printers, we make things in plastic (nylon and glass filled nylon) but we also make things in metal (titanium, stainless steel, cobalt chrome, etc)

The big difference is that we produce parts that are used by industry, for example, in Formula 1 cars, the aerospace industry, surgical instruments, robotic arms, architecture models, prototypes for new products, artwork, jewellery and much more.

The parts are more robust (so much so that they can be used in the aerospace and medical industry), the finish is better (our parts have been used as jewellery and art works), more accurate (we work to tolerances of 0.3mm) and we can produce production parts.

So although it is interesting to see more noise and understanding of the kind of industry we are in and the service we offer, we won’t be buying a 3D printer any time soon.

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