Getting to Know PADT: 3D Printing Services

This post is the sixth installment in our review of all the different products and services PADT offers our customers. As we add more, they will be available here.  As always, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out to info@padtinc.com or give us a call at 1-800-293-PADT.

If there is one service that most people connect PADT with it is our 3D Printing Services.  We have been making prototypes for companies using this ever-advancing technology since we started the company in 1994. As 3D Printing has become more popular and entered the mainstream even beyond engineering, what 3D Printing means to people has changed as well. Along with that, people’s understanding of exactly what it is we do in this area has drifted a little from what goes on. In this month’s installment of our “Getting to Know PADT” series, we will work to provide insight into what 3D Printing Services are and how they can benefit your company.

What is “3D Printing” and “3D Printing Services?”

To start, it should be called “Additive and Advanced Manufacturing and Prototyping Services, ” but people search for “3D Printing” so that is what we call it.  3D Printing is the common name for what is technically referred to as Additive Manufacturing, or AM.  Most physical parts are made (manufactured) by casting or shaping material into a shape you want, removing material from stock to get the shapes you want, and/or combining physical parts you get by the other two methods. Instead of these well-proven methods, AM creates a part by building up material one layer at a time.  That is why it is called additive – it adds layers of material to get a shape. Here is an older blog article showing the most common technologies used in AM.

The advantage of this approach is that you just need one machine to make a part, you can go straight from a computer model to that part, and you are not held back by the physical constraints of traditional processes. These features allow anyone to make a part and to make shapes we just could not create before.  At first, we only used it for prototypes before parts were made. Then we started to make tools to make final products, and now 3D Printing is employed to manufacturing end-use parts.

In the world of mechanical engineering, where 3D Printing is heavily used, we call companies that use additive manufacturing to make parts for others 3D Printing Service Bureaus or 3D Printing Service Providers. Therefore, the full process of doing manufacturing using the technology is called: 3D Printing Services.

The critical word in that last sentence is “full.”  Sending a computer model to a 3D Printer is just one of many steps involved in Additive Manufacturing.  When the service is employed correctly, it includes identifying the right type of additive manufacturing to use, preparing the geometry, setting parameters on the machine, printing the parts, removing supports, cleaning the parts, sanding, applying a surface finish treatment, and then inspection and shipping.  Anyone can send a part to a printer; the other steps are what make the difference between simply printing a part, and producing a great part.

What Services does PADT Offer?

Additive Manufacturing covers a wide range of technologies that create parts one layer at a time, using a variety of approaches. Some extrude, some harden, some use an inkjet print head, and still others melt material.  What they have in common is creating solid geometry one layer at a time. Each technology has its own unique set of advantages, and that is why PADT offers so many different 3D Printing technologies for our customers.  Each of these approaches has unique part preparations, machine parameters, and post-printing processes. Each with a unique set of advantages.  The key to success is knowing which technology is best for each part and then executing it correctly.

Currently, PADT’s 3D Printing Services Group makes parts for customers using the following technologies.  Each one listed has a brief description of its advantages.  See our website for more details.

Technology

Abbrv.

Advantages

Fused
Deposition Modeling

FDM

Strong parts

Easy operation

Reliability of systems

Broad material choice

Water soluble supports

Fast

Cost

Polyjet

PolyJet

Multiple materials in a single build

Broad material choices

Custom material choices

Multiple colors in single build

Water soluble supports

Accuracy

Stereolithography

SLA

Part quality

Material options

Speed

Speed

Material properties

Self supporting

Selective
Laser Sintering

SLS

Digital
Light Synthesis

DLS

Speed

Production capable

Surface Finish

Material Choices

Material properties

Orthotropic properties

Direct
Laser Melting (Metal)

DLM

Fully dense metal parts

Accuracy

Speed

Part strength

As a proud reseller for Stratasys systems, we feel strongly that the two primary technologies from Stratasys, FDM and Polyjet, are the best for customers who want to do Additive Manufacturing in-house or as a service provider. When customers need something different, they can come to PADT to take advantage of the unique capabilities found in each technology.

How is 3D Printing with PADT Better?

The difference is in what we know and how to execute the complete process.  As a provider of 3D Printing services for over 23 years, very few people in the industry even come close to the amount of experience that we bring to the table.  We also know product development and traditional manufacturing, so when a customer comes to us with a need, we understand what they are asking to do and why. That helps us make the right recommendation on process, material, and post-processing.

A few differentiators are:

  • We know our machines
  • We know our materials
  • We offer a wide range of plastic and metal materials
  • We understand post-processing
  • We understand support removal (we manufacture the leading support removal system)
  • We understand design and manufacturing
  • In-house machining, painting, and part finishing
  • In-house inspection and quality
  • Employees who are enthusiastic and dedicated to providing the right solution.

In addition to all of these things, PADT also offers On-Demand Manufacturing as a Carbon Production Partner. We combine Carbon’s DLS technology with our existing and proven manufacturing processes to provide low volume manufacturing solutions for plastic components.

We are also always looking at the latest technologies and adding what our customers need.  You can see this with the recent addition of systems from ConceptLaser, Carbon and Desktop Metal systems.

 

Next Steps and Where to Learn More

The very best way to learn more about PADT’s 3D Printing services is to have us print a part. The full experience and the final product will explain why, with so many choices, so many companies large and small count on us for their Additive Manufacturing. If you need to learn more, you can also contact us at 480.813.4884 or rp@padtinc.com.

Here are some links that you may find useful:

 

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PADT Triples 3D Printing Capacity with New Large Stereolithography System

The addition of a new UnionTech RSPro 450 further establishes PADT as the leader in Additive Manufacturing technology in the Southwestern US. With a build volume of 17.7 x 17.7 x 15.75 inches, this state of the art Stereolithography(SLA) machine will triple the company’s capacity to 3D Print with SLA technology at this Las Vegas print shop. It not only allows the printing of larger parts, it can also create multiple smaller parts in less time.  It will join PADT’s two existing SLA machines along with the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), PolyJet, and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) solutions currently producing parts daily for their customers across the country.

“When we started the company in 1994, one of our first purchases was an SLA machine.  It started our 3D Printing services business, and the technology is still heavily used today.” Said Rey Chu, a co-owner of PADT and the leader for PADT’s Advanced Manufacturing efforts.  “This new system gives us added capacity in size, speed, and material choices. We looked at a wide range of SLA systems and felt that UnionTech provided the quality and robustness we need to keep our customers happy.”

The new system was delivered the second week of October and will be calibrated and producing customer parts by the end of the month.  One of the advantages of the machine is the easy setup and strong calibration capabilities.  The team will be able to produce parts that are about 75% larger than they can currently.  The additional volume and speed will allow for three times as many parts to be printed in a given week than is possible with the current two smaller and older machines.  Initially, a new rigid ABS-like material will be used that produces very strong and precise parts with white plastic.  PADT’s existing pre- and post-processing tools will be applied to this process with little change.

The UnionTech RSPRO 450 SLA System

UnionTech systems are the most popular machines for SLA Additive Manufacturing outside of the United States. They have proven to be reliable, easy-to-use, accurate, and fast.  They are also an open system, allowing users to use any SLA compatible resin that can usually be acquired at a more affordable price than proprietary material solutions.

Stereolithography is the oldest commercial 3D Printing process. It uses photo-curable liquid resins to build parts one layer at a time.  A vat in the machine is filled with liquid material, and a plate is placed just under the surface. Then an ultraviolet laser draws on the very top layer of the liquid, and all of wherever the laser traces, the liquid turns to a solid.  The plate is lowered, a new layer of liquid is spread on top, and the laser creates a new layer. The process repeats until the part or parts are made.

The UnionTech machine is a refined and proven application of this technology that was a perfect match for PADT’s current needs.  Also, the company itself was great to work with, and the local sales and support team have been outstanding.  As the team learns the system, they are finding it to be easy to use as well as simple to maintain and calibrate.  The initial quality of parts has been outstanding.

PADT’s 3D Printing Services

PADT has been the Southwest’s leading provider of 3D Printing services since the company was started over 23 years ago.  The company has survived industry consolidation and a vastly changing landscape by focusing on providing high-quality 3D Printed parts to customers using Fused Deposition Modeling, Polyjet Printing, Selective Laser Sintering, and Stereolithography systems combined with one of the most experienced and knowledgeable teams in the Additive Manufacturing space.

Located in the ASU Research Park in Tempe, Arizona, PADT’s advanced manufacturing facility currently features ten machines dedicated to printing parts for customers.  The lab includes a full machine shop, part finishing facilities, and an advanced scanning and inspection capability.

This added capability is yet another reason why so many companies large and small count on PADT for their 3D Printing needs.

Contact us today to learn more about our 3D Printing Services or:

 

Rapid Prototyping Technology Animations

Every once in a while we get asked to go out and do presentations on Rapid Prototyping. As part of that, we like to explain the four major technologies: SLA, SLS, FDM, and Polyjet. No matter how many hand gestures we use people just don’t seem to get it unless we show an animation.

So we thought it would be good to share those with the community so that they can either learn about the basics of the technology or use these to help educate others. They are crude, we are engineers and not artists.  But they get the point across. We hope to have time to update them and add text.

They are in the form of animated GIF’s, so you can put them on a website or throw them in a PowerPoint and you don’t need a viewer or special software to view them.  Click on the images to get the larger version.

Use as you see fit, just remember to mention where you found them: P – A – D – T.

FDM-Animation

PolyJet_Animation

SLA-Animation-3

SLS-Animation