PADT Partners with 3D Printing Disruptor Carbon to Offer Production Part Manufacturing to the Southwest

The long-term promise of 3D Printing has always been using the technology to replace traditional manufacturing as a way to make production parts.  The various technologies that are considered Additive Manufacturing have been fantastic for prototyping and making tools that are used to manufacturing end-use parts, but rarely work well for production.  Carbon is literally turning the 3D printing world upside down by introducing real production capabilities with their systems. And now that PADT has joined Carbon’s Production Partner Program, on-demand manufacturing using 3D Printing is now a reality in the Southwestern US.

The Production Partner program establishes vetted service providers with 3D Printing and manufacturing experience as manufacturing centers. This allows customers who are early adopters of CARBON’s exciting technology, to find a trusted source for their production parts.  PADT was chosen to participate because of our twenty-plus years of experience as a 3D Printing service provider and more than $5,000,000 in injection molding projects, along with in-house product development, scanning, simulation, and inspection.

PADT will be adding three Carbon M2 printers to our existing 3D Printing facility at our main office in the ASU Research Park in Tempe, Arizona. The first two machines will be available for production in early 2018, and the third machine will be online by early summer.  Customers will then be able to order production quality parts in volume and receive them within a week. PADT’s investment and this partnership make the dream of On Demand manufacturing of complex plastic components a reality.

“We have been looking for a low volume plastic manufacturing solution that uses 3D Printing for some time.” Said Rey Chu, co-owner of PADT “Since we started the company we have been providing soft tooling and rapid injection molding.  Once we saw the Carbon DLS technology in action, we knew we found our solution.  The part quality and material properties are as close to injection molded as we have ever seen.”

About Carbon’s Disruptive Technology

Carbon has introduced a revolutionary way to 3D Print plastic components called Digital Light Synthesis, or DLS.  It combines their proprietary continuous printing technology with programmable liquid resins to create parts with the same strength and surface finish of injection molded parts.  The part creation is fast because it is a continuous process, whereas most 3D Printing machines build up one layer at a time with pauses in-between.  This continuous process is not only fast, but it also avoids the stair-steps created with layered methods. This results in textured surfaces and a surface finish that no other process can approach.

Programmable materials are the other technology that enables production quality parts.  This unique approach joins two liquid resins as the build material; one that hardens with light and the other with heat. The 3D Printer creates the desired geometry of the part by using light to shape the first material. Then a second step uses an oven to harden the heat activated resin, resulting in engineering-grade mechanical properties.  Moreover, since the strength comes from a heat cured resin, the properties are the same in every direction. Most 3D Printed parts that use a layered approach are weaker in the build direction.  The other significant advantage of including heat activated resins is that they offer a much broader material selection than light activated resins.

PADT’s On-Demand Manufacturing Service

In the past, when PADT’s customers needed parts manufactured with production quality, surface finish, and strength we had to use soft tooling or low-volume injection molding. Both are expensive and take time to make tools.  3D printing is leveraged to make those tools faster, but it still takes time and labor. Production manufacturing could benefit from going directly from a computer model to a finished part, as we do with prototyping.  When we first saw an early Carbon sample part we knew that this was a technology we needed to watch.  As the technology matured further, it became obvious that this was the process PADT was looking for – this was the type of end-use part our customers were requesting.  Then, when the Production Partner program was introduced, we knew we needed to take part.

Our On-Demand Manufacturing service will be built around the Carbon Digital Light Synthesis process. Initially, we will use three Carbon M2 systems, a cleaning station, and a curing oven.  This will be placed in the middle of our existing advanced manufacturing facility, allowing us to add machining, hand finishing, painting, and other post-processing steps into each production process as needed.

What sets PADT’s offering apart from other providers of production manufacturing with 3D Printing is that we also provide full product development, simulation, and part scanning services to help customers make sure their designs are correct. Before parts are made, we can use our simulation and design knowledge to make sure everything is correct before production begins. And when the parts are completed, we can use our advanced scanning to inspect and our product development testing to verify performance.  By adapting our proven quality to this new technology, we can ensure that every step is done correctly and traceability exists.

Next Steps

You do not have to wait till our production line is up and running.  We can start working with customers now on getting their parts ready for manufacturing with Carbon’s breakthrough Digital Light Synthesis. Our experienced staff can evaluate your components and find the best fit, recommend design changes, and work with Carbon to produce samples. And when our line is up, you can hit the ground running and obtain your parts on-demand, when you need them.

Take part in the transition of manufacturing to faster, better, and on demand by contacting PADT today to learn more.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Nerdtoberfest is coming up soon!

Nerdtoberfest, PADT’s annual fall open house is coming up soon!

Join us – Thursday, October 26th, 2017 from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm MST at 7755 S. Research Drive Tempe AZ, 85281

This year our fall open house will offer attendees a glimpse at some of our core offerings, introductions to a few new additions, and free food and drinks! Come experience this innovative technology first-hand, including:

  • CUBE High Performance Computing (HPC) Systems
  • 3D Scanning
  • FDM Services
  • Stratasys 3D Printers
  • Carbon 3D Printing CLIP Technology *New! 
  • ANSYS Discovery Live *New! 
Join PADT as we open our doors to the public for a celebration of all things engineering and manufacturing in Arizona.

Announcing Nerdtoberfest 2017 – Save the Date!

We are excited to announce the return of our annual fall open house, Nerdtoberfest! PADT will be opening it’s doors to the public for a celebration of all things engineering and manufacturing in Arizona.

More information, along with a full event agenda will be made available soon, however in the meantime you can secure your spot now by clicking the link below.

Join us:
Where:  7755 S Research Dr, Tempe, AZ 85284

When: Thursday, October 26th 2017

What Time: 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM MST

Standard Roof Rack Fairing Mount Getting In Your Way?! Engineer it better and 3D Print it!

It is no mystery that I love my Subaru. I bought it with the intention of using it and I have continually made modifications with a focus on functionality.

When I bought my roof crossbars in order to mount ski and/or bike racks, I quickly realized I needed to get a fairing in order to reduce drag and wind noise. The fairing functions as designed, and looks great as well. However, when I went to install my bike rack, I noticed that the fairing mount was in the way of mounting at the tower. As a result, I had to mount the rack inboard of the tower by a few inches. This mounting position had a few negative results:

  • The bike was slightly harder to load/unload
  • The additional distance from the tower resulted in additional crossbar flex and bike movement
  • Additional interference between bikes when two racks are installed

These issues could all be solved if the fairing mount was simply inboard a few more inches. If only I had access to the resources to make such a concept a reality…. oh wait, PADT has all the capabilities needed to take this from concept to reality, what a happy coincidence!

First, we used our in-house ZEISS Comet L3D scanner to get a digital version of the standard left fairing mount bracket. The original bracket is coated with Talcum powder to aid in the scanning process.

The output from the scanning software is a faceted model in *.STL format. I imported this faceted CAD into ANSYS SpaceClaim in order to use it as a template to create editable CAD geometry to use as a basis to create my revised design. The standard mounting bracket is an injection molded part and is hollow with the exception of a couple of ribs. I made sure to capture all this geometry to carry forward into my redesigned parts, which would make the move to scaled manufacturing of this design easy.

Continuing in ANSYS SpaceClaim, as it is a direct modeling software instead of traditional feature-based modeling, I was able to split the bracket’s two function ends, the crossbar end and fairing end, and offset them by 4.5 inches, in order to allow the bike rack to mount right at the crossbar tower. I used the geometry from the center section CAD to create my offset structure. A mirrored version allows both the driver and passenger side fairing mount to be moved inboard to enable mounting of two bike racks in optimal positions. The next step is to turn my CAD geometry back into faceted *.STL format for printing, which can be done directly within ANSYS SpaceClaim.

 

After the design has been completed, I spoke with our 3D printing group to discuss what technology and material would be good for these brackets, as the parts will be installed on the car during the Colorado summer and winter. For this application, we decided on our in-house Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) SINTERSTATION 2500 PLUS and glass filled nylon material. As this process uses a powder bed when building the parts, no support is needed for overhanging geometry, so the part can be built fully featured. Find out more about the 3D printing technologies available at PADT here.

Finally, it was time to see the results. The new fairing mount offset brackets installed just like the factory pieces, but allowed the installation of the bike rack right at the tower, reducing the movement that was present when mounted inboard, as well as making it easier to load and unload bikes!!

I am very happy with the end result. The new parts assembled perfectly, just as the factory pieces did, and I have increased the functionality of my vehicle yet again. Stay tuned for some additional work featuring these brackets, and I’m sure the next thing I find that can be engineered better! You can find the files on GrabCAD here.

 

How to Simplify Aircraft Certification – Stratasys Webinar

The aerospace industry’s adoption of additive manufacturing is growing and predicted to revolutionize the manufacturing process. However, to meet stringent FAA and EASA requirements, AM-developed aerospace products must be certified that they can achieve the robust performance levels provided by traditional manufacturing methods. Current certification processes are complex and variable, and thus obstruct AM adoption in aerospace.

Thanks to a newly released aerospace package released by Stratasys for their Fortus 900mc printer and ULTEM 9085 resin, Aerospace Organizations are now able to simplify the aviation certification process for their manufactured parts.

Join PADT’s 3D Printing General Manager, Norman Stucker for a live webinar that will introduce you to the new Stratasys aerospace package that removes the complexity from FAA and EASA certification.

By attending this webinar, you will learn:

  • How Stratasys can help get more parts certified for flight quicker and easier.
  • The benefits of Aerospace Organizations using the Fortus 900mc and ULTEM 9085 resin
  • And much more!

Don’t miss your chance to attend this upcoming event,
click below to secure your spot today!

 

If this is your first time registering for one of our Bright Talk webinars, simply click the link and fill out the attached form. We promise that the information you provide will only be shared with those promoting the event (PADT).

You will only have to do this once! For all future webinars, you can simply click the link, add the reminder to your calendar and you’re good to go!

Quick Tips for Stratasys’ new Nylon 12CF Material

One of the newest materials available for the Stratasys Fortus 450 users (other machines could have this capability at a later date) is the Nylon 12CF. Nylon 12CF is a Carbon Fiber filled Nylon 12 filament thermoplastic. The carbon fiber is chopped fibers that are 150 microns long. This is Stratasys’ highest strength and stiffness to weight ratio for any of their materials to date as shown below. 
Often times, when Stratasys is getting close to releasing a new material, they will allow certain users to be a beta test site. One beta user was Ashley Guy who is the owner of Utah Trikes, which is located in Payson, Utah. He is having so much success with this material that he is making production parts with it. Watch this video to hear more from Ashley and to see some of his 3D printed parts.

Talking with Ashley, he has helped us with understanding some of the tips and tricks to get better results from printing with this material. One change that he highly recommends is to adjust the air gap between raster’s to -.004”. This will force more material between the raster’s so there won’t be as many noticeable air gaps. Here is a visual representation of the air gap difference using Stratasys software Insight:

The end goal at Utah Trikes is to produce production parts with this material, so by adjusting the air gap, the appearance of the parts look close to injection mold quality after the parts have been run through a tumbler. Some key things that I really like about this material is that the support material is soluble and easily removed using PADT’s own support cleaning apparatus (SCA Tank) that aid with the support removal. After the support has been removed, they are placed in a tumbling machine to smooth the surfaces of the part with different media within the tumbling machine. Any post process drilling or installing of helicoil inserts or adding bushings to the part is done manually.

Jerry Feldmiller of Orbital ATK, who also did a beta test of this material at his site in Chandler, Arizona, mentions these 3 tips:

  1. Nylon12 CF defaults to “Use model material for Support”. 90% of the time I uncheck this option.
  2. I use stabilizing walls and large thin parts to anchor the part to the build sheet and prevent peal up.
  3. Use seam control set to Align to Nearest.

Jerry also supplied his Nylon 12CF Tensile Test that he performed for this new material as shown below. He mentions that the Tensile Strength is 8-15 ksi depending on X-Y orientation.
~5 ksi in Z-axis, slightly lower than expected.

This part is used to clamp a rubber tube which replace the old ball valve design at ATK. Ball valves are easily contaminated and have to be replaced. After two design iterations, the tool is functioning.

Jerry also follows a guide that Stratasys offers for running this material. If you would like a copy of this guide, please email me your info and I will send it to you. My email is James.barker@padtinc.com

Now onto Stratasys and the pointers that they have for this material. First, make sure the orientation of the part is built in its strongest orientation. Nylon materials have the best layer-to-layer bond when comparing them against the other thermoplastics that Stratasys offers.

Whenever you print with the Nylon materials (Nylon 6, 12, and 12CF), it is advised to print the sacrificial tower so that any loose strands of material are collected in the sacrificial tower instead of being seen on the 3D printed part. You also want to make sure that these materials are all stored in a cool and dry area. Moisture is the filaments worst enemy, so by storing the material properly, this will help tremendously with quality builds.

It is also recommended for parts larger than 3 inches in height to swap the support material for model material when possible. Since the support material has a different shrink factor than the model material, it is advised to print with model material where permitted. This will also speed your build time up as the machine will not have to switch back and forth between model and support material. We have seen some customers shave 5+ hours off 20 hour builds by doing this.

This best practice paper is the quick tips and tricks for this Nylon 12CF material from our users of this material. The Stratasys guide goes into a little more detail on other recommendations when printing with this material that I would like to email to you. Please email me with your info.

Let us know if this material is of interest to you and if you would like us to print a sample part for testing purposes.

Silicon Desert Insider: How close are we to 3-D Printing human organs?

Being able to grow your own replacement organ is one of those things, like flying cars, that we have been waiting a long time for.  The combination of stem cells and 3D Printing may be what we need to get that new liver on order.  In “How close are we to 3-D Printing human organs?” I go over where we are with this technology and what is needed to take those final steps.

Press Release: PADT and Stratasys Announce Lockheed Martin Additive Manufacturing Laboratory at Metropolitan State University in Denver

PADT-Press-Release-IconPADT and Stratasys have worked with Lockheed Martin to establish a new Additive Manufacturing Laboratory at Metropolitan State University in downtown Denver.  The Lockheed Martin Additive Manufacturing Laboratory is the first-of-its-kind facility in Colorado. It is focused on giving students and industry access to the equipment and faculty needed to develop the next generation of manufacturing tooling, based on the use of 3D printing to make the tooling.

This is PADT’s third successful contribution to the creation of Academia + Industry + Equipment Manufacturer lab, the others being at ASU Polytechnic focused on characterization of 3D Printed parts and at Mesa Community College, focused on training the needed technicians and engineers for running and maintaining additive manufacturing systems. These types of efforts show the commitment from Stratasys, industrial partners, and PADT to making sure that the academic side of new manufacturing technology is being addressed and is working with industry.

We reported on the grand opening of the facility here,and are very pleased to be able to announce the official partnership for the Laboratory.  Great partners make all the difference.

Official copies of the press release can be found in HTML and PDF.

Press Release:

PADT and Stratasys Announce First-of-its-Kind Additive Manufacturing Lab in Colorado, Located at Metropolitan State University of Denver

Lockheed Martin Additive Manufacturing Laboratory helps students and engineers spur design and creation of composite tooling applications to reduce manufacturing lead times and streamline costs

TEMPE, Ariz. and Minneapolis, MN – August 28, 2017 ─ Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies (PADT) today announced the company is teaming with Stratasys Ltd. (Nasdaq: SSYS), a global leader in applied additive technology solutions, to unveil a first-of-its-kind additive manufacturing lab in Colorado – located at the Metropolitan State University of Denver. Expected to open later this fall, the Lockheed Martin Additive Manufacturing Laboratory is unique to the state, dedicated to advance use of 3D printing for creation of composite tooling applications addressing complex design and manufacturing requirements. Empowering next-generation manufacturing, 3D printing allows designers and engineers to improve efficiency and lead times while minimizing costs.

At the centerpiece of this lab are additive technology solutions from Stratasys, enabling students and engineers to speed production and streamline efficiencies with 3D printed, custom tooling solutions addressing even the most complex designs and shapes.  Backed by the Stratasys Fortus 900mc Production 3D Printer, the environment is funded through a grant from Lockheed Martin Space Systems – and now becomes one of the few located in Colorado and the only one at a higher-education institution in the Rocky Mountain region.

Building the Lockheed Martin Additive Manufacturing Laboratory at MSU Denver is a major development in the progression of additive manufacturing tooling applications,” said Rey Chu, Principal and Co-Founder, Manufacturing Technologies at PADT, Inc.The expertise and dedication of Stratasys and PADT – combined with the generosity of Lockheed Martin and vision for advanced workforce development from MSU Denver – will help propel our industry far beyond where it is today.

“We’re excited to work with Lockheed Martin to propel creation of highly innovative, additive manufacturing curriculum at MSU Denver. Both students and local businesses now have access to leading 3D printing solutions for development of composite structures – enabling manufacturers to save time, money, and solve even their most unique design challenges,” said Tim Schniepp, Director of Composite Solutions at Stratasys. “We have no doubt the lab will quickly become a cornerstone of additive manufacturing innovation across the State of Colorado.”

 Initially deployed at MSU Denver, the additive manufacturing curriculum will later become available for use by other academic institutions across the country. Additionally, PADT will work with MSU Denver, Lockheed Martin and other users to build a Fortus 900mc Users Group within the Rocky Mountain region.

Supporting Quotes

Brian Kaplun, Manager, Additive Manufacturing at Lockheed Martin Space Systems: “Lockheed Martin believes this first-of-its-kind laboratory at MSU Denver can shape the future of space. We’ve built 3D-printed parts that traveled 1.7 billion miles to Jupiter, and we look forward to developing a workforce that understands how to use this technology for future flight hardware, tooling and other advanced manufacturing applications.”

Robert Park, Director, Advanced Manufacturing Sciences Institute at Metro State University of Denver: “MSU Denver is fortunate to have such great partners who support our passion for nurturing young minds to shape the future of the additive manufacturing industry. We’re also excited to work with Stratasys and PADT on progressing the industry beyond its current scope.”

About Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies

Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies, Inc. (PADT) is an engineering product and services company that focuses on helping customers who develop physical products by providing Numerical Simulation, Product Development, and 3D Printing solutions. PADT’s worldwide reputation for technical excellence and experienced staff is based on its proven record of building long term win-win partnerships with vendors and customers. Since its establishment in 1994, companies have relied on PADT because “We Make Innovation Work.” With over 80 employees, PADT services customers from its headquarters at the Arizona State University Research Park in Tempe, Arizona, and from offices in Torrance, California, Littleton, Colorado, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Murray, Utah, as well as through staff members located around the country. More information on PADT can be found at www.PADTINC.com.

About Lockheed Martin Space Systems

Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 97,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

About Metropolitan State University of Denver
MSU Denver is a leader in educating Coloradans through university programs particularly relevant to the state’s economy and the demands of today’s employers. With the highest number of ethnically diverse students among the state’s four-year colleges, MSU Denver offers 67 bachelor and five master degrees in accounting, business, health administration, teaching and social work. Nearly 20,000 students are currently enrolled at MSU Denver, and 75 percent of the University’s 88,000 graduates have remained in Colorado as valuable members of the state’s workforce. More information can be found at www.msudenver.edu.

About Stratasys

Stratasys (NASDAQ: SSYS) is a global leader in applied additive technology solutions for industries including Aerospace, Automotive, Healthcare, Consumer Products and Education. For nearly 30 years, a deep and ongoing focus on customers’ business requirements has fueled purposeful innovations—1,200 granted and pending additive technology patents to date—that create new value across product lifecycle processes, from design prototypes to manufacturing tools and final production parts. The Stratasys 3D printing ecosystem of solutions and expertise—advanced materials; software with voxel level control; precise, repeatable and reliable FDM and PolyJet 3D printers; application-based expert services; on-demand parts and industry-defining partnerships—works to ensure seamless integration into each customer’s evolving workflow. Fulfilling the real-world potential of additive, Stratasys delivers breakthrough industry-specific applications that accelerate business processes, optimize value chains and drive business performance improvements for thousands of future-ready leaders around the world.

Corporate Headquarters: Minneapolis, Minnesota and Rehovot, Israel.

Online at: www.stratasys.com  http://blog.stratasys.com and LinkedIn.

Stratasys, Fortus, and FDM are registered trademarks, and the Stratasys signet is a trademark of Stratasys Ltd. and or its subsidiaries or affiliates. All other trademarks belong to their respective owners.

# # #

PADT Media Contact
Alec RobertsonTechTHiNQ on behalf of PADT
585.281.6399
alec.robertson@techthinq.com
PADT Contact
Eric Miller
PADT, Inc.
Principal & Co-Owner
480.813.4884
eric.miller@padtinc.com
Stratasys Media Contact
Craig Librett
Stratasys
Principal & Co-Owner
518.424.2497
craig.librett@stratasys.com

 

Silicon Desert Insider: What’s so exciting about metal 3-D printing anyway?

The ability to take a model of some object on a computer and make a physical copy with one machine, 3-D Printing or Additive Manufacturing, has been around for more than twenty-five years.  Recently, the bug noise in 3D Printing has been around metal 3D Printing.  It is a big deal, and in “What’s so exciting about metal 3-D printing anyway?” I explain why engineers are so head-over-heals for this new capability.

Introducing the Stratasys J750 – Webinar

Introducing the Stratasys J750 – Webinar

August 30th, 2017 – 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM MST

The Stratasys J750 3D printer delivers unavailed aesthetic performance including true, full-color capability with the texture mapping and color gradients. Create prototypes that look, feel and operate like finished products, without the need for painting or assembly, thanks to the Stratasys J750’s wide range of material properties.

With this, students can easily experience both the prototyping and testing stages of the manufacturing process, helping to prepare them for what they will experience once they enter the workforce. The high quality materials available with the J750 also allow for the creation of highly intricate and realistic models, perfect for helping medical students with research.

The wide color spectrum, combined with the fine-finish, multi-material capability, let’s the Stratasys J750 produce parts with an incredible array of characteristics. Prototypes that need to look, feel and function like future products are possible in a single print operation, with minimal to no finishing steps, like painting, sanding or assembly.

With such an innovative machine comes a variety of user applications, such as:

  • Image Rapid Prototyping
  • Concept Models
  • Medical Models
  • Jigs & Fixtures
  • Colored Textures

Join PADT’s Sales executive Jeff Nichols and 3D Printing Application Engineer James Barker from 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM MST AZ for an in depth look at how the Stratasys J750 stacks up against it’s competition, and how it’s various attributes help to make it the perfect fit for institutions such as yours!

 

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to bring the future of manufacturing into your classroom or workplace, secure your spot today!

  

DustRam: A Great Example of Using 3D Printing for Durable Production Parts

Nothing makes us happier here at PADT than seeing a customer be successful with technology we worked with them on. When Jack King of DustRam came to us for a prototype for a part on his dust free tile removal product it was just the start of a fantastic journey that showed off the power of 3D Printing.  After a few iterations Jack was able to replace his expensive and long lead metal mouthpiece with a plastic one that he could manufacture on demand in his own shop using his Stratasys 3D Printer.

It was such a great story that two publications were interested and wrote far better writeups than I could.

The first is interesting because it is an industry trade magazine for people in the floor installation business. Their perspective is refreshing for those of us who live in the engineering world, getting more into the practical application of the product:

http://digital.bnpmedia.com/publication/?i=422744#{“issue_id”:422744,”page”:52}

This was preceded by a fantastic article in Additive Manufacturing magazine that gets more into the technical side:

http://www.additivemanufacturing.media/articles/3d-printed-device-proves-rugged-enough-for-dust-free-tile-removal-

If you want to learn more about how you can use additive manufacturing to produce yout production hardware, contact us today.

 

Webinar: Additive Manufacturing & Simulation Driven Design, A Competitive Edge in Aerospace

PADT recently hosted the Aerospace & Defence Form, Arizona Chapter for a talk and a tour. The talk was on “Additive Manufacturing & Simulation Driven Design, A Competitive Edge in Aerospace” and it was very well received.  So well in fact, that we decided it would be good to go ahead and record it and share it. So here it is:

Aerospace engineering has changed in the past decades and the tools and process that are used need to change as well. In this presentation we talk about how Simulation and 3D Printing can be used across the product development process to gain a competitive advantage.  In this webinar PADT shares our experience in apply both critical technologies to aerospace. We talk about what has changed in the industry and why Simulation and Additive Manufacturing are so important to meeting the new challenges. We then go through five trends in each industry and keys to being successful with each trend.

If you are looking to implement 3D Printing (Additive Manufacturing) or any type of simulation for Aerospace, please contact us (info@padtinc.com) so we can work to understand your needs and help you find the right solutions.

 

Installing a Metal 3D Printer: Part 5 (Housekeeping)

Download all 5 parts of this series as a single PDF here.

This is my final post in our 5 part series discussing things we learned installing a metal 3D printer (specifically, a laser powder bed fusion machine). If you haven’t already done so, please read the previous posts using the links below.

If you prefer, you can register for a webinar to be held on July 26, 2017 @ 2pm EDT (US) where I will be summarizing all 5 parts of this blog series. Register by clicking on the image below:

Housekeeping may seem too minor a thing to dedicate a post to, but when it comes to metal 3D printing, this is arguably the single most important thing to do on a regular basis once the equipment, facilities, safety and environmental considerations are addressed up front. In this post, I list some of the activities specific to our Concept Laser MLab Cusing R machine that we do on a routine basis as indicative of the kinds of things that one needs to set aside time to do, in order to maintain a safe working environment. In this post, I break down the housekeeping into the 3D printer, the wet separator and the filter change.

1. The 3D Printer

All 3D printers need to be routinely cleaned, but for powder based metal 3D printers, this needs to be done after every build. Three steps need to be performed during cleaning of the printer:

  • Powder Retrieval: After the build, the powder is either still in the dose/feed chamber or not. All powder that is not in the dose chamber needs to be brushed to the overflow chamber for recycling. While it is possible to vacuum this powder, that is not recommended since it results in greater loss of powder and also increases the burden on cleaning the vacuum and creating wet waste.
  • Process Chamber Cleaning: The process chamber after a build gets covered with fine combustion particles (soot) that need to be wiped away, as shown in Figure 1. The recommendation is to do this cleaning using lint-free or clean room wipes moistened with an ammonia based cleaner like Windex Original.
  • Lens Cleaning: Special lens cleaning wipes are to be used to clean the protective lens that separates the chamber from the laser. Standard lens cleaning wipes can be used for this, in a gentle single-pass movement.

It is important to wear appropriate PPE and also NOT contaminate the lens. Improper or irregular cleaning will result in soot particles interfering in subsequent builds. Soot particles can occasionally seen in subsequent builds especially when the inert gas and the ventilator (circulating fan) are turned on – this is more likely to happen if the chamber is not routinely and properly cleaned.

Figure 1. Post-build cleaning of the 3D printer and required materials

2. Wet Separator

The wet separator (vacuum) sucks up stray powder and suspends it in a water column. The metal particles will descend to the bottom of the water column (as shown in Figure 2) and need to be routinely cleaned out. This cleaning procedure is recommended daily for reactive metals – failing this, the metal particles will weld themselves to the metal container and prove to be very difficult to scrape out. For non-reactive metals, a daily flush may be excessive (since this will add to the cost in terms of labor and disposal) and a weekly routine may be preferable for a wet separator that serves 1-2 machines.

To reduce the water needed to flush out the powder sludge at the bottom, a standard pump sprayer is very effective. Further reduction in water usage and disposal can be achieved by a filtration device such as the one developed by the folks at Kinetic Filtration.

Figure 2. Cleaning a wet separator

 

3. Filter Change

Filters need to be changed periodically as shown in Figure 3. A video below (set to start at the 2:58 mark) shows how the filter change is performed for our MLab, for a non-reactive metal, so I shall not describe the procedure further. A reactive metal alloy filter needs to be stored in water to passivate it at all times, even through disposal. Other OEMs recommend sand and other materials, so it is important to follow the specific instructions provided by your supplier for passivation.

Figure 3. Removing, passivating and disposing the filter

 

Summary

Good housekeeping for metal 3D printing is vital and more than just aesthetic – there is a modest chance that failing to follow your supplier’s instructions on one or more of the items above will result in a safety incident. This is especially true for reactive alloys, where filter changes are recommended after each build and wet separator clean on a daily basis.

Disclaimers

  • This is intended to supplement the supplier training you must receive before using the equipment and not meant to replace it – in case of conflicting information, your supplier’s training and equipment requirements override any discussion here. PADT and the author assume no legal responsibilities for any decisions or actions taken by the readers of this document.
  • My personal experience derives specifically from the use of Laser-based metal 3D printing tools, specifically Concept Laser’s MLab Cusing R equipment. I expect majority of this information to be of use to users of other laser based powder bed fusion metal systems and to a lesser extent to Electron Beam systems, but have no personal experience to vouch for this.

~

Final Thoughts

This concludes my 5-part post on what we learned installing a metal 3D printer. If you have any thoughts on the content or would like to discuss this subject further, please let me know by messaging me on LinkedIn or by sending an email to info@padtinc.com, citing this blog post. I will be happy to include any suggestions in my posts with due credit.

Thank you for reading – I hope this has added value to the discussion on safely and effectively advancing metal 3D printing technology.

Announcement: Affordable Metal 3D Printing from Desktop Metal Added to PADT Portfolio

PADT is pleased to announce that it has partnered with Desktop Metal to resell its office-friendly and affordable metal 3D Printing solution. The partnership will also allow PADT to integrate this exciting new technology into its 3D Printer maintenance and part printing services. Desktop Metal’s new system is unique to the industry because it is a complete solution with a patented anti-sintering material that enables easily removed supports and the creation of complete assemblies. With the proprietary sintering furnace the DM Studio System delivers accurate parts quickly.  PADT will be representing this new solution in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah.

“We are very excited to fill this gap in our product offering,” said Rey Chu, co-owner and director of manufacturing technology at PADT. “It enables us to serve customers who need stronger properties than plastic additive manufacturing systems can offer, but who don’t need a direct laser melting solution. We researched our options and watched the development of many different products. We knew Desktop Metal had the right solution when we learned that it had developed a complete package that is easy to use.”

The DM Studio System™ is based on the Metal Injection Molding (MIM) process and will start shipping this September. It is the first office-friendly platform for metal 3D printing and is considerably less expensive than existing technology. The Studio System will be sold as a package for $120,000. This includes the metal 3D printer, debinder, and microwave-enhanced sintering furnace.

As a leader in additive manufacturing for more than 20 years, PADT is a resource for customers who need 3D Printing as a service, or who need their own systems in-house. The DM Studio System™ will compliment the complete line of Stratasys FDM and Polyjet systems that the PADT resells as well as direct laser melting systems from our partner Concept Laser. Our company’s expertise with fused deposition modeling, sintering, and MIM also make us uniquely qualified to represent this solution.

“Our team is looking forward to getting this technology in front of customers,” said PADT’s Manager of Hardware Sales, Mario Vargas. “Metal 3D Printing is something our customers have wanted to add, but they could not find a turn-key solution for prototyping with various metal materials. Desktop Metal leveraged its expertise in metallurgy and software to deliver a complete system that can be run in an office environment. This is very compelling for many of our customers across industries.”

In the coming months, PADT will be setting up seminars and contacting customers across the Southwest to help educate the user community on the unique value proposition of the DM Studio System™. Anyone interested in learning more can reach out to info@padtinc.com or call 480.813.4884, technical experts are available to explain and answer any questions.

Save the date!

To show off this exciting technology we will be having putting on a DesktopMetal Studio System Road Show in August. Register now!

To learn more right now you can:

Installing a Metal 3D Printer: Part 4 (Environmental)

Download all 5 parts of this series as a single PDF here.

What waste streams are generated in powder-based metal 3D printing? Are they hazardous? How should they be disposed responsibly?

This is the fourth part of a 5-part series discussing things we learned installing a metal 3D printer (specifically, a laser powder bed fusion machine). If you haven’t already done so, please read the previous parts using the links below.

If you prefer, you can register for a webinar to be held on July 26 @ 2pm EDT (US) where I will be summarizing all 5 parts of this blog series. Register by clicking on the image below:

1. Sources of Waste

As shown in Figure 1 below, metal powder used in this process ends up in dry and wet waste. The dry waste can be composed of wipes and gloves with powder and soot, and the wet waste is mostly composed of water and suspended metal particles (from the wet separator and ultrasonic cleaner), and for reactive alloys, can also consist of filter cartridges that need to be suspended in water throughout. Because the wastes contain metal powders, we must stop and ask if this is safe for sending to our landfills and into our sewers where there is a risk of contaminating groundwater and creating other long term environmental havoc.

Thus, the first question is: are these wastes hazardous?

Fig 1. Powder Life Cycle

2. Is this Waste Hazardous?

There are two sources for this information: the EPA (in the US) and the powder supplier’s data sheets. It helps to begin by understanding some definitions – statements in italics are quoted from the EPA, the rest of the text is mine.

  • Waste: “A waste is any solid, liquid, or contained gaseous material that is discarded by being disposed of, burned or incinerated, or recycled
  • Hazardous Waste: There are several types of hazardous waste and associated definitions of each. The two main categories are:
    • Listed Waste: “Your waste is considered hazardous if it appears on one of four lists published in the Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR Part 261).” I have looked at this list and to the best of my knowledge, no metal powders of concern to the metal 3D printing process appear on this list (as of July 10, 2017). The metal powders currently used are also not considered acute hazards.
    • Characteristic Waste: In addition to listed wastes, the EPA specifies certain characteristics that a waste may possess (even if not listed) that would make it hazardous. In the context of metal powders, the potentially relevant categories are:
      • “It catches fire under certain conditions. This is known as an ignitable waste”.
      • “It is harmful or fatal when ingested or absorbed, or it leaches toxic chemicals into the soil or ground water when disposed of on land. This is known as a toxic waste.”

Due to the generality of the definitions of “Characteristic Waste,” and the lack of available data in the public domain such as from a TCLP test (Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure), it is hard to dismiss these as not being relevant. For each of our waste streams, consider the arguments below:

  • Dry Waste: We know that given the right conditions and an ignition source, that these powders, especially reactive alloys and combustion products, can ignite.
  • Wet Waste: We also know that while water serves as a passivation for powders, we cannot guarantee that the powder will always stay in wet state if it is not disposed as such. Evaporation, for example, can leave behind combustible powder.

Another source of hazard information is the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) or Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Some metal powders are more hazardous than others, so when planning, consider looking at all the alloys you may possibly be using in the future and ask for SDS sheets on all of them. One example, is of Ti6Al4V powder below, clearly showing significant hazards present.

Fig 2. Sample hazards identification from SDS (shown here for Ti6Al4V)

3. What Regulations do I need to be aware of?

The EPA established three categories of waste generators in their regulations, listed below along with the relevant quantity of waste generated and stored, for our purposes (visit EPA’s site for the full list, this is not comprehensive) – EPA cites these numbers in hundreds and thousands of kilograms, hence the strange numbers below (in lbs):

Note this is the sum total of all hazardous wastes your site is generating (in our case, dry and wet wastes combined), not a limit per category. Depending on what category you fall in, you will need to follow EPA’s regulations, available here. Additionally, some states may have additional regulations and this is where I only have studied this problem for my home state of Arizona, which is in line with the EPA’s federal guidelines and does not, to the best of my knowledge, impose additional restrictions. The full list by state is here. If you are a “Very Small Quantity Generator” as we are at PADT, the regulations are fairly straightforward and involve three items (quoted from the EPA’s site) – the requirements are more stringent for larger quantities.

  • VSQGs must identify all the hazardous waste generated.
  • VSQGs may not accumulate more than 1,000 kilograms of hazardous waste at any time.
  • VSQGs must ensure that hazardous waste is delivered to a person or facility who is authorized to manage it.

At PADT, we contract with an industrial waste disposal company that picks up and replaces our waste containers. Yes, this adds cost to the process and at least one company has developed a method to significantly reduce wet waste (which tends to be the larger of the two) by employing a filtration device. Similar innovations and a general focus on reducing waste can drive these costs down.

4. Opinion

As with all regulations, one can approach them by focusing on the specificity of the language. While this is important, it is also useful to seek to understand the intent of the regulation. When it comes to these wastes, I ask if I would be comfortable carrying it in my car and disposing of it in my hypothetical backyard landfill (dry waste) or my local water body (wet waste) – and the answer to both, for me, is a NO. So why should I ask my city to do this? This is understandably an exaggerated way of looking at the problem, but I believe at a minimum, serves as a risk-conservative upper-bound that is useful when addressing uncertainty in these matters.

You can read the final installment of this series, on housekeeping, here.

5. References

  1. EPA, Hazardous Waste Generators Home Page
  2. EPA, Categories of Waste Generators
  3. EPA e-CFR, Title 40, Part 261
  4. US Environmental Agencies by state 

Disclaimers

  • This is intended to supplement the supplier training you must receive before using the equipment and not meant to replace it – in case of conflicting information, your supplier’s training and equipment requirements override any discussion here.
  • Local, state and federal regulations vary and are important – partner with your local environmental authorities when making decisions
  • My personal experience derives specifically from the use of Laser-based metal 3D printing tools, specifically Concept Laser’s MLab Cusing R equipment. I expect majority of this information to be of use to users of other laser based powder bed fusion metal systems and to a lesser extent to Electron Beam systems, but have no personal experience to vouch for this.
  • PADT and the author assume no legal responsibilities for any decisions or actions taken by the readers of this document or of subsequent information generated from it.