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Frequently Asked Questions

What is 3D Printing?

3D Printing is the latest ‘buzz’ word in the industry used to describe the rapid manufacture of plastic or metal parts using powder bed fusion techniques.  These layer based manufacturing processes are also referred to as Additive Manufacturing (AM), Industrial 3D Printing, Rapid PrototypingAdditive Layer Manufacturing (ALM) and 3D modeling.  Produced directly from 3D CAD data, complexity of design and geometry becomes more achievable enabling designers to create parts in new ways, combining many parts into one and incorporating complex internal structures.  To find out more about our 3D printing service, visit our plastic 3D Printing and metal 3D printing pages.

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What is 3T’s AM capability?

We have some of the world’s largest and most technologically advanced laser sintering machines, offering high performance, reliability and repeatability.  Our Plastic machines produce parts via Selective Laser Sintering technology, and likewise our Metal machines build parts using Direct Metal Laser Sintering (also known as Direct Metal Laser Melting).  They can rapidly translate 3D CAD data into parts with excellent detail resolution and quality in just hours and days without the need for any tooling, compared to days and weeks using subtractive manufacturing methods.  We can produce anything from a one-off rapid prototype part, to production runs of hundreds, or even thousands, of components (often referred to as Rapid Manufacturing).

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What industry sectors do you support?

The benefits of Additive Manufacturing (or industrial 3D printing) are applicable to many different industry sectors including Aerospace, Architectural, Automotive and Medical.  Aerospace prototypes and series production parts can be used for testing or as final production components, and architectural models of a concept or design can include intricate details and previously ‘impossible’ structures and forms.  Our concept heat exchanger has created a huge response from automotive design engineers as it demonstrates that AM parts can deliver a lighter part, optimised for performance whilst ensuring functional strength and structural integrity that fits into an irregular space.  The use of Additive Manufacturing within the medical market is developing continually, one of the advantages being that we are able to work from MRI and CT data.  Visit our Sectors pages for further information about all the sectors we support.

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What materials can my AM parts be made in?

Plastic AM parts are available in Nylon 12, Flame Retardant Nylon 12, Glass Filled Nylon 12 and Tough Black.   Metal AM parts are available in a range of materials, including Aluminium, Cobalt Chrome, Stainless Steel and Titanium.  Visit our Plastic AM Materials and Metal AM Materials pages for full technical specifications.

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How can I send my data to you?

The easiest and quickest way to send your data is to attach it to an email and send it to, with your contact details and any relevant information regarding materials, quantities, finishing, delivery requirements etc. in the covering email. Or you may complete our secure online Request a Quote form.  However, both these methods have a maximum file size limit of 10MB. If your data is larger than this, you can upload it directly to our secure FTP site by calling our Projects Team on +44 (0)1635 580284.  We can read many different file types, the most common being .STL and .IGES, and a full list is available here.  Full details on how to send us your data are on our Data Transfer page.

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What’s the largest data file size you can accept by email?

If you are sending your data to us via email ( or using our secure online Request a Quote form, there is a maximum file size limit of 10MB.  If your data is larger than this, you can upload it directly to our secure FTP site by calling our Projects Team on +44 (0)1635 580284.  Full details can be found on our Data Transfer page.

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How quickly can I have my parts?

Generally, from receipt of usable data, we can produce and ship your plastic prototypes or production parts within 4-5 days.  However, we can often turn parts around quicker and over the weekend, subject to capacity and prior agreement, although a premium price may be payable for this service.  If additional colouring or finishing is required, this will increase the delivery leadtime.

Metal prototypes or production parts take longer to build and often require post-processing, so therefore have longer leadtimes.  Please contact our Metals Projects Team on +44(0)1635 580284 to discuss your requirements and delivery schedule.

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How can I have my parts finished?

The plastic AM process utilises layer based construction techniques which, whilst offering significant benefits in terms of build speed, have the disadvantage that the surface finish of the component is stepped. From the purely functional aspect this is seldom a problem, however from the aesthetic perspective this frequently requires hand dressing and texturing. Full details are available on our Plastic AM Finishes page.

Metal AM parts will typically go through a series of ‘post processing’ steps including support removal, shot peening and polishing by our team of expert finishers.  Parts are 99.99% dense and require no post-sintering or other infiltration process. Dependent upon the material used we can offer a range of in-house finishing and, through our select supplier network, we can support all of our customers’ requirements including materials treatments, coatings and independent measurement verification. Full details are available on our Metal AM Finishes page.

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What colour can I have my plastic AM parts?

Your plastic AM parts can either be supplied in their raw state, ie. white, or we can produce it with a permanent surface colouring from a standard range of colours.  Full details are available on our Plastic AM Finishes page.

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How much will my AM part cost?

As with any new technique, prospective customers are keen to understand the component pricing structure.  This is complex with AM systems, as multiple parts of dissimilar design are built together.  Costs are generally linked to the overall part size (max X, Y, Z) and the material content of the part (Volume).  Complexity is not a factor.  In the case of plastic AM, parts can vary from £35 through to several thousand, although economics of scale come into effect making batches of 10, 20, 50 or even 100 parts, attractive.  With metal AM, parts will cost more due to material and process costs.  Please contact our Projects Teams on +44(0)1635 580284 to obtain a quote, or complete our online Request a Quote form.

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What does “3T RPD” stand for?

The company name is derived from the disciplines in which it operates … Technology; Techniques; Training (ie. 3T) and the market it supports; Rapid Product Development (ie. RPD) … hence, 3T RPD!

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Who do I talk to if I need specific information?

There are various people you can talk to, as follows:

  • Ian Halliday – CEO
  • Nigel Robinson – Operations Director
  • Dr Mark Beard – Technical Director
  • Hannah Canning – Plastics Production Manager
  • Lars Sexton – Metals Production Manager
  • Louise Ramble – Financial Controller

They can all be contacted by calling the main switchboard number: +44 (0)1635 580284 or by using our contact form.

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