Tracking time has challenged the human race for centuries, resulting in some of the finest mechanisms ever crafted. From sundials and hourglasses to pocket watches and atomic clocks, we have marked the passage of time with ever-increasing precision. Along the way, we became supremely skilled at creating the requisite gears and springs, as well as the machines to produce them. (If you have a deeper interest in measuring time, one must-read book is Longitude by Dava Sobel.)
This post, however, is about taking clock-making to a new dimension – three dimensions, in fact, using multiple 3D printers to generate not only the gears and structural components but even the watch-spring and winding-key, based on a mechanism called a Tourbillon. Invented around 1800 by Abraham-Louis Breguet, the Tourbillon concept compensates for the effects of gravity on delicate watch-springs when the watch is carried or laid down (varying its orientations), by employing multiple axes.
Depending on one’s donation amount, some or all of the intricate clock’s CAD files are downloadable. Recently Justin Baxter, PADT’s senior 3D Printing Service Engineer (with years of hobbyist clock-making under his belt), set out to reproduce the device with a twist. Why not take advantage of all the additive manufacturing systems in use by PADT’s Manufacturing Division, and print at least one component on each?
This approach spans the AM technologies of Fused Deposition Modeling (Stratasys FDM material extrusion), PolyJet (Stratasys material deposition), selective laser sintering (3D Systems SLS polymer powder bed fusion), direct metal laser sintering (EOS DMLS metal powder bed fusion), stereolithography (3D Systems and UnionTech vat SLA photopolymerization) and digital light processing (Stratasys Origin One DLP vat photopolymerization).
The Triple-Axis Tourbillon Mechanical Clock Design
Not all of the clock’s 230 components are 3D printed – metal screws, pins and ball bearings round out the assembly – but Justin is slowly printing all other parts spread across colors, materials and AM technologies. For starters, he has recreated the central first-axis mechanism called the Mini Mechanica; this subset serves well for new users to test out their own systems and parameters ensuring effective dimensional tolerances. The Mini Mechanica part files are also available as a separate free download.
Justin’s Mini Mechanica includes the following parts made of ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene), each 3D printed on one of our two Stratasys F370 FDM systems:
When finished, here is how that subset will fit into the completed three-axis clock:
Note: the fully printed clock operates on a 90 minute run-time if a steel spring is employed, and 20 minute run time with a 3D printed (FDM) version. (We’ve seen suggestions for adding a battery.)
As the part-builds progress across our other printers and materials, we’ll post an update. Here are a few more components in progress, including the decorative base on the left, which was printed in Nylon 12GS on our SLS powder-bed printer.
PADT Inc. is a globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development and 3D Printing products and services. For more information on Stratasys polymer printers and materialsand EOS metal printers, contact us at email@example.com.
Just over a year ago, PADT, like most every other engineering company, shifted rapidly into minimal on-site-operations mode. As the PADT 3D Printing Application Engineer, I worked from home while requesting support from our manufacturing group for running benchmark parts on our Stratasys fused deposition modeling (FDM) filament and PolyJet resin printers. Whether those parts were created on the F370, F450, F900 or J55 printers, they spanned a wide range of part size, function and material. It was an interesting time, but software tools like GrabCAD Print made remote part set-up possible, and the on-site team kept everything running under some often-challenging conditions.
I’ve been back in the office for about a month, so I’m tending to tasks that were, out of necessity, put on a backburner while our company did high-importance projects such as printing a ton of PPE visor frames. Now it’s time to do some printer maintenance that got a little delayed beyond the recommended run-time schedule.
For our Stratasys J55 full-color PolyJet printer, while all the standard components were cleaned and checked after every print, we stretched the recommendation period for replacing the wiper blade, the roller-waste collector, and both filters in the compact ProAero Air Extractor that contributes to making this printer truly office-friendly. Now I’ve checked those off as done.
Bring in the Printer Maintenance Experts
Other steps should only be done by a professional from the Service Department at your reseller or from Stratasys. When they come on-site to perform Preventive Maintenance for your printer, do you know what goes into this, and the kind of tasks that keep your system humming along?
It’s similar to practicing good automotive ownership: checking the air in your tires, changing the oil every 5,000 miles or so, replacing brake pads before they’re so thin that you have to turn the rotors, etc. Some jobs you do monthly, some yearly and some on general principles to avoid future trouble which inevitably occurs during the critical stage of a project.
Here are some of the tasks our PADT service technician performs from the 12-month Preventive Maintenance Checklist for a Stratasys F450 industrial FDM printer:
With the printer powered off, clean the canister drives, gantry fans and electronics bay ventilation fans (kind of like cleaning out the ventilation area under the front of your refrigerator – which we all do regularly, right?) Also, inspect the head cable and heat shields, verify X-Y belt tensions, and replace the vacuum filter.
With the printer powered on, verify voltage levels, fan speeds and Z-Zero calibration, inspect the flicker brush assemblies and clean and lubricate the Z-axis leadscrew.
When the two-year point rolls around, these tasks are repeated plus another set is added, such as:
With the printer off: Replace the filament guide tubes, Kapton seals, X and Y bellows seals, oven lamps, air-pressure regulator diaphragm and all compressed-air system filter elements.
With the printer on: Adjust the air pressure and airflow, verify the oven blower operation and perform filament load-time tests.
And at the four-year mark, all of the above are completed plus such tasks as “replace the X and Y belts.” At every service appointment, too, the technician verifies that the current version of the printer control software has been installed, and that the user has the latest application software, whether Insight or GrabCAD Print. All in all, we’re talking more than 50 check points and tasks that keep the printer running smoothly.
High Expectations from Good Maintenance
I have to admit that when I get into my car, I expect the engine to idle smoothly, the air-conditioning to generate chilled-air, and my driveway to be free of oil spots. However, that expectation is only realistic if I or my mechanic has done due diligence with regular inspections and taken action when certain conditions show up. Checking for dirty spark plugs or a cracked distributor cap will maintain engine performance. If the serpentine belt is showing signs of wear, I’d better replace it rather than risk losing both power steering and air-conditioning on some far-off road in the desert on a beastly summer day. And worn rings, pistons or gaskets could all contribute to that oil leak.
And so it goes with 3D printers. First, the importance of avoiding down-time is huge for most manufacturers and factors into both production planning and a smooth workflow for printing prototypes. Second, if you’ve paid for a Stratasys-authorized Service Plan, you get guaranteed response time when something does go wrong (say you accidently melted filament into the print-head because you didn’t mount the tip correctly – life happens). Third, with a PM contract, a trained technician steps you through every aspect of the printer’s operation, inspection and cleaning whether done daily/weekly/monthly by a program engineer or by the system operator.
Stratasys offers three levels of contract service for almost all of its 3D printers, now covering the gamut from FDM and PolyJet to SLA, DLP, and the new Selective Absorptive Fusion (SAF, a polymer powder-bed fusion technology). Those levels are Sapphire, Emerald, and Diamond which can each be purchased for multi-year coverage.
Generally speaking, service offerings include:
On-site technical service
Priority service scheduling
Discounts on printer heads
Customers also win with hardware updates, optional backup printing services, predictable maintenance expenditures for easier budgeting, and more.
It’s not in my budget to buy a new car every year or even every couple of years, so regular, professional automotive inspection and maintenance is critical to me. It is to customers in the additive manufacturing world, too. So, to paraphrase that diamond-jewelry advertisement, “Now you have a friend in the 3D printer business: Stratasys.” Find out more about service contracts and the details of preventive maintenance by contacting 3DPSAL@PADTinc.com.
PADT Inc. is a globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development and 3D Printing products and services. For more information on Stratasys printers and materials, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For decades in the medical world, surgeons and their professional support teams have relied on X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonant imaging (MRI) data when performing their pre-surgical planning approach. These diagnostic tools have been literal lifesavers, yet the resolution and 2D perspective of these images can make it difficult to determine the full details of anatomical geometry. Subtle, critical abnormalities or hidden geometries can go unnoticed when viewing flat films and digital displays.
With the advent of 3D printing, many surgeons are now using 3D models for both surgical planning and patient communication. While cost is the primary hold-back, such models are seeing increased use. In addition, efforts are underway to quantify the benefits of reduced operating room time/expense and improved patient outcome; see Medical 3D Printing Registry (ACR/RSNA). Supporting this concept are the high-resolution, multi-material PolyJet 3D printers from Stratasys.
But how does the patient’s CT and MRI data become a unique 3D printed model you can hold in your hand? How do you segment out the areas of interest for a particular analysis or surgical model? This blog post describes the necessary steps in the workflow, who typically performs them, and the challenges being addressed to improve the process every step of the way.
Data Acquisition of Patient Anatomy
When we think of imaging throughout the decades, X-ray technology comes to mind. However, classic single 2D images on film cannot be used to drive 3D models because they are qualitative not quantitative. The main options that do work include the series of x-rays known as CT scans, MRI data, and to a lesser extent computed tomography angiography (CTA) and magnetic resonant angiography (MRA). Each approach has pros and cons and therefore must be matched to the proper anatomy and end use.
CT scans comprise a series of x-rays evenly spaced laterally across a particular body section, typically generating several hundred image files. These can be quickly acquired and offer high resolution, however, they do not do well displaying different types of soft tissue, and the process relies on extended exposure to a radiation source.
Typical CT resolution is 500 microns in X and Y directions, and 1mm in Z. This is readily handled by Stratasys printers; for example, the print resolution of the J750 Digital Anatomy Printer is 42 microns in X, 84 microns in Y, and 14 to 27 microns layering in Z, which more than captures all possible scanned features.
Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA) involves the same equipment but uses a contrast agent. With this approach, brighter regions highlight areas with blood flow. This process is superior for showing blood vessels but does not differentiate tissue or bones well.
MRI data is based on a different technology where a strong magnetic field interacts with water in the body. This approach differentiates soft tissue and shows small blood vessels but is more expensive and not effective for capturing bone. Similarly, Magnetic Resonant Angiography (MRA) uses a contrast agent that can track small blood vessels which are important for identifying a stroke but cannot register tissue. MRI scans may also include distracting artifacts and offer poor regional contrast.
A final source of digital imaging data is Positron Emission Tomography (PET). Here, radioactive material is attached to a biologically active area such as cancer; the data obtained with sensors is useful but very local – it does not show surrounding tissue.
Segmentation: Conversion from DICOM to STL format
Whether generated by CT or MRI equipment, anatomic image data is stored in digital files in accordance with the Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) standard. Two aspects of this standard are relevant to 3D printing medical models: DICOM files include patient-specific, HIPPA-protected information, and the data in the individual images must be merged and converted into a solid model, with the areas of interest defined and partitioned.
Various software packages and services are available that will convert DICOM data into an STL model file (standard format for 3D printer input) while stripping out the personal identifying information. (The latter must be done to comply with HIPPA regulations: never send a DICOM file directly to any service bureau.)
Segmentation involves partitioning a digital image into distinct sets of pixels, defining regions as organ, bone, blood vessel, tumor, etc., then grouping and combining those sub-sections into a 3D model saved as an STL file. Not only does this format offer more meaningful information than a stack of separate images, but it can then be exported for 3D printing.
The standard unit of measure for identifying and segmenting the different regions within the combined 3D series of CT scans is a Hounsfield unit. This is a dimensionless value, defined as tissue density/x-ray absorption; for reference, water = zero, a kidney =+40 and bone = +1000.
Human guidance is needed to set threshold Hounsfield levels and draw a perimeter to the area of interest. You can define groups with the same threshold level, cut out certain areas that are not needed (e.g., “mask” the lungs to focus on the spine), and use preset values that exist for common model types. Typically, a radiologist or trained biomedical engineer performs this task, since correctly identifying boundaries is a non-trivial judgement task.
A particularly challenging task is the workflow for printing blood vessels, as opposed to bones or organs. The output from CTA/MRA imaging is the blood pool, not the enclosing vessel. In this case, users need third-party software to create a shell of X thickness around the blood pool shape, then keep both model files (pool and vessel) to guide printing the vessel walls and their internal support structure (which, on the Stratasys J750 Digital Anatomy Printer, is soluble and dissolves out.)
So far, just a few medical segmentation software packages exist:
Materialise Mimics Innovation Suite is internationally known for its excellence in image analysis and allows you to write scripted routines for automating repeated aspects of the segmentation tasks. There are also tools for interpreting images with metal artifacts, designing support connections between parts, measuring specified features, and rendering a view of the resulting 3D model.
Synopsys Simpleware ScanIP is a 3D image segmentation, processing, and meshing platform that processes data from MRI, CT, and non-medical imaging systems. Simpleware ScanIP removes or reduces unwanted noise in the greyscale images, allows cropping to the area of interest, supports both automated and user-guided segmentation and measuring and includes API scripting. Modules are available for Cardio, Ortho, and Custom solutions.
Invesalius 3 is open-source software that can reconstruct CT and MRI data, producing 3D visualizations, image segmentation, and image measurements in both manual and semi-automated modes.
Embodi3D/Democratiz3D is an online service that lets you upload a series of CT scans, select a basic anatomy type (bone, detailed bone, dental, muscle, etc.), choose the free medium-to-low resolution or paid high resolution conversion service, and receive the link to an automatically generated STL file. (Users do not interact with the file to choose any masking, measuring, or cropping.) The website also offers downloadable 3D printable models and 3D printing services.
Note that these packages may or may not have some level of 510K FDA clearance for how the results of their processing can be used. Users would have to contact the vendors to learn the current status.
Setting up the STL file for printing
Most of the segmentation software packages give you options for selected resolution of the final model. As with all STL files, the greater the number of triangles, the finer the detail that is featured, but the model size may get too large for reasonable set-up in the printer’s software. You may also find that you still want to edit the model, either to do some hole repairs or smoothing, slice away a section to expose an interior view, or add mechanical struts/supports for delicate and/or heavy anatomy sections. Materialise Magics software will do all of this readily, otherwise, adding a package that can edit STL files or create/merge geometry onto an STL file will be useful.
Whoever is setting the file up for printing needs to make a number of decisions based on experience. For Stratasys Connex3, J55, J8-series or J750 Digital Anatomy Printers, the process begins by bringing the file into GrabCAD Print and deciding on an optimized build orientation. Next, colors and materials are assigned, including transparent sections, percentages of transparent colors, and flexible/variable durometer materials, which can be for a single part or a multi-body model.
For the J750 Digital Anatomy Printer in particular, users can assign musculoskeletal, heart, vascular, and general anatomies to each model, then choose detailed, pre-assigned materials and properties to print models whose tactile response mimics actual biomechanical behavior, such as “osteoporotic bone.” (see Sidebar).
I tested out the free online Democratiz3D segmentation service offered by Embodi3D. Following their tutorial, I was able to convert my very own DICOM file folder of 267 CT images into files without patient ID information, generating a single STL output file. I chose the Bone/Detailed/Medium resolution option which ignored all the other visible anatomy then brought the resulting model into the free software Meshmixer to edit (crop) the STL. That let me zero in on a three-vertebrae section of my lower spine model and save it in the 3MF format.
Lastly, I opened the new 3MF file in GrabCAD Print, the versatile Stratasys printer set-up software that works with both FDM (filament) and PolyJet (UV-cured resin) printers. For the former case, I printed the model in ivory ASA on an F370 FDM printer, and for the latter, I was able to assign a creamy-grey color (Red248/Green248/Blue232) to give a bone-like appearance, printing the model on a J55 PolyJet office-environment printer.
Reach out to PADT to learn more about medical modeling and Stratasys 3D printers.
PADT Inc. is a globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development and 3D Printing products and services. For more information on Stratasys printers and materials, contact us at email@example.com.
Sidebar: J750 Digital Anatomy Printer
The Stratasys J750 Digital Anatomy Printer uses PolyJet resin 3D printing technology to create parts that mimic the look and biomechanical response of human tissue, organs and bones. Users select from a series of pre-programmed anatomies then the material composition is automatically generated along with accurate internal structures. Pliable heart regions allow practice with cutting, suturing and patching, while hollow vascular models support training with guide wires and catheters. General anatomy models can replicate encapsulated and non-encapsulated tumors, while bone structures can be created that are osteoporotic and/or include regions that support tapping, reaming and screw insertion.
Currently the Digital Anatomy Printer models present in the range of 80 to 110 Hounsfield Units. Higher value materials are under development which would help hospitals create phantoms for calibrating their CT systems.
Currently available Digital Anatomy Printer Model/Section Assignments:
I am so lucky in a zillion ways to be able to work from home while functioning in my position as a 3D Printing Application Engineer for PADT Inc., a Stratasys 3D printer reseller and engineering consulting/manufacturing company in Tempe Arizona.
Three things are making this possible:
1 – Awesome management and co-workers
2 – Great high-speed internet connection
3 – GrabCAD Print software, and more specifically, the GrabCAD Print phone app.
Of all the apps on my phone, next to my gmail account, this is the app I check most often, because it is so handy!
First off, I can instantly see the status of the nine PADT printers we have on our Tempe network; I can also check other networks and accounts in other locations for which I have permission. That means I know the status of printers I’m running or want to run, and can tell how long someone else’s job is going to take – a very useful bit of information when it comes to telling a customer or our sales group what printer is open for running a part.
– one print just finished on our Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Fortus400,
– my job is 43 percent complete on one of our FDM F370s, and
– another of my jobs has just begun on the second F370 system.
I can even see that a print got cancelled on our older F250; in this case, I was expecting that, but it’s good information in case I wasn’t. But there is so much more…
Say I want to confirm the file name of what’s running on that first F370, and get some data about its status. I click on that printer’s name and the app shows me this screen:
Now I see that the print has just gotten to layer 2 of 123 slices total, it started at 1:58pm and it will finish at 6:12pm this evening. It also displays the file name of the part and shows that I’m the owner.
If I slide the image of the printer to the left, I then get the camera view, since an F370 has a build-chamber camera that updates about every ten seconds. Because this print had just started, you can’t really see much beside the build plate (brightly lit at the top), but I can come back to that as often as I like to monitor a particularly challenging geometry – say, perhaps a tall thin part where I added some extra support structure.
At this point I can access several more windows. If I click Job Material Usage, I see
This information is useful if I need a reminder of how much model and support material this print will consume.
The next line offers the bigger picture: clicking through, I see how much material remains in each canister, for both the model and support; it also shows what, if any, material is loaded in the second set of bays. Stratasys printers with double bays will do an automatic hot-swap as needed – a nice feature over the weekend or in the middle of the night.
Here’s another possible status screen: a paused build, where I had planned ahead, inserting a Pause Build instruction in the GrabCAD job set-up. In this case, I wanted to stop the part and remove it, to create a sample piece that exposes the hexagram infill I chose for lightweighting. Another reason to pause and resume an FDM print is to add hardware such as a flat washer to reinforce a deep hole.
The GrabCAD Print App also sends me email alerts (with a chime on the phone) when the status of a print job changes, such as the message below telling me the job has indeed paused as planned:
(I don’t get notifications for other people’s jobs, so I don’t get inundated with messages.)
This real-time information lets me keep track of all my print jobs from my 3D Printing Command Center deep in the heart of suburban Phoenix. I can do 98% of what I need to remotely.
Of course, I depend on the engineers in PADT’s Manufacturing group – essential workers who’ve been in the office non-stop throughout this crazy 2020 work-year. They change filament, load clean trays, run calibrations, remove parts, and put finished prints in our Support Cleaning Apparatus tanks (a PADT-developed system spun off to Oryx and OEM’d to Stratasys since 2009.) That step dissolves the soluble support. (For several of the engineering filaments I run, the support is break-away, and my team takes care of that, too.)
The GrabCAD Print App is available as a free download from the Apple app store. And all of this is in addition to how you can view and interact with GrabCAD Print itself from any computer, setting up a part to print as you sit in one city then uploading the print-ready file to a system across the state or across the country.
Got any questions about the app? We’d love to answer them.
PADT Inc. is a globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development and 3D Printing products and services. For more information on Stratasys printers and materials, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While many examples exist of impressive texturing done on 3D
printed StratasysPolyJet printed parts (some
wild examples are here), I
have to admit it took me a while to learn that true texturing can also be added
to Stratasys Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) parts. This blog post
will walk you through adding texture to all faces or some faces of a solid
model, ready for FDM printing. You, too, may be surprised by the results.
I know that complex texturing is possible in a graphics
sense with such software packages as Rhino,
PhotoShop, Blender and more, but I’m going to show you
what you can achieve simply by working with SolidWorks, from Rev. 2019
onwards, as an easy starting point. From there, you can follow the same basic
steps but import your own texture files.
SolidWorks Texture Options
First off, let’s clarify some terms. Texture mapping has
existed for years and strictly speaking creates a 2D “texture” or pattern. If I
were to wrap that imagery around a 3D CAD model and print it on, say, a PolyJet
multi-color 3D printer, I’d get a 3D part with a flat or perhaps curved surface
decorated with a multi-color “picture” such as a map or a photo of leather. It
could conform, but it’s still basically a decal.
A 3D texture instead is more properly referred to as Bump
Mapping (not to be confused with …..too late….bit mapping). Bump mapping interprets
the color/contrast information of a 2D image such that it renders light and
shadow to give the illusion of a 3D part, while remaining in 2D. Taking this
concept one step further, 3D CAD software such as SolidWorks can apply rules
that convert white, black and grey shades into physical displacements,
producing a kind of tessellated topology mapping. This new information can be
saved as an STL
file and generate a 3D printed part that has physical, tactile variations in
material height across its surface. (For a detailed explanation and examples of
texture versus bump-mapping, see the GrabCAD Tutorial “Adding
Texture to 3D Models.”)
For FDM parts, you’ll get physical changes on the outer
surface of the part that appear as your choice of say, a checkerboard, an
arrangement of stars, a pebbly look or a series of waves. In the CAD software,
you have a number of options for editing that bump map to produce bigger or
smaller, higher or lower, finer or coarser variations of the original pattern,
prior to saving the model file as an STL file.
Stepping through SolidWorks 3D Texturing
The key to making this option work in SolidWorks 3D CAD
software (I’m using SolidWorks 2020), is in the Appearances tab. Here are the
steps I’ve taken, highlighting the variety of choices you can make. My example
is the Post-It Note holder I described in my PADT blog post about advanced
infill options in GrabCAD Print.
Open Post-It note CAD file, select Solid Bodies
(left menu) and select Appearances (in the right toolbar).
Expand Appearances and go all the way down to Miscellaneous, then click to open the 3D Textures folder.
Scroll down to choose one of the more than 50 (currently) available patterns. Here, I’ve chosen a 5-pointed star pattern.
I dragged and dropped that pattern onto the part body. A window opens up with several choices: the default is to apply the pattern to all faces:
However, you can mouse over within that pop-window to select
only a single face, like this:
When you’ve applied the pattern to either all faces or just one or two, you’ll see a new entry in the left window, Appearances, with the subheading: 5-pointed Star. Right-click on those words, and choose Edit Appearance:
Then the Appearances window expands as follows, opening by
default to the Color/Image tab:
In this pane, if desired, you could even Browse to switch to
a different pattern you have imported in a separate file.
Click on Mapping, and you’ll see a number of “thumb wheel” sliders for resizing the pattern either via the wheel, clicking the up/down arrows, or just entering a value.
Mapping: this moves the pattern – you can
see it march left or right, up or down. I used it to center the stars so there
aren’t any half-stars cut off at the edge.
Size/Orientation: You can also try “Fit width to selection” or “Fit height to selection,” or experiment with height and width yourself, and even tilt the pattern at an angle. (If you don’t like the results, click on Reset Scale.) Here, I’ve worked with it to have two rows of five stars.
Remember I said that you can also make the pattern higher or lower, like a change in elevation, so that it stands out a little or a lot. To make those choices, go to the Solid Bodies line in the Feature Manager tree, expand it, and click on the part name (mine is Champfer2).
In the fly-out window that appears,
click on the third icon in the top row, “3D Texture.” This opens up an expanded
window where you can refine the number of triangular facets that make up the
shape of the selected texture pattern. In case you are working with more than
one face and/or different patterns on each face, you would check the box under
Texture Settings for each face when you want to edit it.
Here is where you can flip the
pattern to extend outwards, or be recessed inwards, or, if you brought in a
black/white 2D pattern in the first place, you can use this to convert it to a
true 3D texture.
I’ll show you some variations of
offset distance, refinement and element size, with exaggerated results, so you
can see some of the possible effects:
In this first example, the only
change I made from the default was to increase the Texture Offset Distance from
0.010 to 0.200. The stars are extending out quite visibly.
Next, I changed Texture Refinement
from 0% to 66.7%, and now you can see the stars more distinctly, with better
Finally, I am going to change the
Element size from 0.128 to 0.180in. It made the star edges only slightly sharper,
though at the expense of increasing the number of facets from about 24,000 to
26,000; for large parts and highly detailed texturing, the increased file size
could slow down slicing time.
To make sure these textured areas print, you have to do one more special step: Convert to Mesh Body. Do this in the Feature Manager by right-clicking on the body, and selecting the second icon in the top row, “Convert to Mesh Body.” You can adjust some of these parameters, too, but I accepted the defaults.
Lastly, Save the file in STL format, as usual.
At my company, PADT, my favorite FDM printer is our F370, so I’m going to set this up in GrabCAD Print software, to print there in ABS, at 0.005in layers:
You can definitely see the stars popping out on the front
face; too bad you can also see two weird spikes part-way up, that are small
bits of a partial row of stars. That means I should have split the face before
I applied the texture, so that the upper portion was left plain. Well, next
Here’s the finished part, with its little spikes:
And here’s another example I did when I was first trying out a checkerboard pattern; I applied the texture to all faces, so it came out a bit interesting with the checkerboard on the top and bottom, too. Again, next time, I would be more selective to split up the model.
NOTE: It’s clear that texturing works much better on
vertical faces than horizontal, due to the nature of the FDM layering process –
just be sure to orient your parts to allow for this.
Commercial aircraft companies are already adding a pebble
texture to flight-approved cosmetic FDM parts, such as covers for brackets and
switches that keep them from being bumped. If you try this out, let us know
what texture you chose and send us a photo of your part.
PADT Inc. is a globally recognized provider of Numerical
Simulation, Product Development and 3D Printing products and services, and is
an authorized reseller of Stratasys products. For more information on Stratasys
printers and materials, contact us at email@example.com.
What a cool time to be involved in space-based projects,
from the recent, stunningly successful manned Space
X launch that linked up with the International Space Station (ISS), to the
phase 1, unmanned Northrop Grumman/Lockheed MartinArtemis OmegA launch planned
for a Spring 2021 debut. In between these big-splash projects are the launches
of hundreds of small satellites, whether a 227 kg Starlink or a 1 kg CubeSat. (According to the Space
Surveillance Network of the United States
Space Force, there are more than 3,000 active satellites currently in
One common thread that runs through many of these technology
achievements is the use of 3D printed polymer parts, not just as manufacturing
tools and fixtures but as flight-certified, end-use components. Applications
already in use include:
– Enclosures, casings and covers for bus structures,
avionics and electrical systems
– Mounting/routing brackets and clips for wire harnesses
– Barrier structures that separate different on-board
If ever an industry needed light-weight parts, it’s the
space industry. Every kilogram loaded onto a rocket demands a physics-determined,
expensive amount of fuel to create the thrust that will push it against Earth’s
gravity. In addition, most components are one-of-a-kind or low volume. No
wonder engineers have worked for decades to replace dense metals with effective,
lighter weight polymers.
Those polymers must meet stringent requirement for
High strength-to-weight ratio
Heat resistant up to 320F/167C
Chemically resistant to various alcohols,
solvents and oils
Add to this the need to work in a form that is compatible
with additive manufacturing, and the number of material options goes down.
However, there are two filaments that have made the grade.
Ultem 9085 is a polyetherimide (PEI) thermoplastic developed
and marketed in raw form by SABIC.
Stratasys uses strict quality control to convert it into filament that runs on
its largest industrial printers and also offers a certified grade that includes
detailed production test-data and traceable lot numbers.
Stratasys Ultem 9085 parts have been certified and flown on
aircraft since 2011 and have been key components in spacecraft beginning in
2013, such as onboard the Northrop Grumman Antares vehicles typically used for
resupplying the ISS. An unusual
project that has used Ultem 9085 parts is MIT/NASA Ames Research Center’s Synchronized
Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES).
Various iterations of these colorful nano-satellites (looking like volley-ball-sized
dice) have floated inside the ISS since 2006, with an initial goal of testing
the algorithms and sensors required to remotely control the rendezvous and
docking in weightlessness of two or more satellite-type structures.
Since then many different versions have been built and
delivered to the astronauts of the ISS; both high school and college students
have been heavily involved in designing experiments that test physical and
mechanical properties of materials in microgravity, such as wireless power
transfer. In 2014, the “Slosh”
project used Ultem 9085 parts to help connect the units to investigate the
behavior of fluids such as fuel sloshing between containers.
More recently, in May 2020, Italian researchers at the National Institute for Nuclear Physics
(INFN) relied on Ultem 9085 to build several final parts in its ultraviolet
telescope that is now operating onboard the ISS. Called the Mini-EUSO (Extreme
Universe Space Observatory), this piece of equipment is one element of a
multi-component/multi-year study of terrestrial and cosmic UV emissions, and is
now mounted in an earth-facing window of the ISS Russian Zvezda module.
Scientists involved in the Mini-EUSO noted that 3D printing saved them a lot of time in the development and manufacturing process of custom brackets that attach photo-multiplier detectors to the top and bottom of the focal surface, permitting modifications even “late” in the design process. Their use also saved several kilograms of upload mass.
Electrostatic Dissipative PEKK: Antero ESD
Although Ultem 9085 has proven extremely useful for many
space-based applications, for certain applications even more capability is
needed. The search was on for an electrostatic dissipative filament that also
displayed great chemical, mechanical and flame/smoke/toxicity properties. NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center became the
driving force behind Stratasys’ subsequent development of Antero ESD (Antero
840CN03), a filament based on the already successful Antero 800NA.
Both Antero products are based on polyetherketoneketone
(PEKK), a high-strength, chemically resistant material; in addition, the ESD
version is loaded with carbon-nanotube chopped fibers providing a
moderately conductive “exit path” that naturally dissipates any charge build-up
during normal operations. It also prevents powders, dust or fine particles from
sticking to the surface.
NASA first flew Antero ESD parts in 2018 in the form of
brackets holding fiber optic cables smoothly in place. This was inside the
climate-change monitoring satellite called Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2). The satellite was built
and tested by then Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, now part of Northrop
Grumman Space Systems; the
instrument itself is called the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS),
a space-based LIDAR unit. Built and managed by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center,
this satellite monitors such data as changes in polar ice-sheet thickness.
Counting Down for Launch
An even bigger Antero ESD application – bigger in multiple
ways – is waiting in the wings for its debut, comprising sections of the Orion
module designed and built by Lockheed
Martin Space Systems. This spacecraft will eventually carry astronauts to
the Moon and beyond as part of NASA’s Artemis program, with the first
un-crewed, lunar-orbit launch scheduled for Spring 2021.
The Orion craft’s docking hatch cover is made entirely from
sections printed in Antero ESD. Six pie-shaped sub-sections with intricate
curves and cut-outs fit together forming a one-meter diameter ring with a
central hole. (If Ultem 9085 had been used, the parts would have needed a secondary
coating or nickel-plating to deflect static charge, making the Antero ESD
option very attractive.)
Ready, set, print, launch!
PADT Inc. is a globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development and 3D Printing products and services, and is an authorized reseller of Stratasys products. For more information on Stratasys printers and materials, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The world of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is constantly evolving. The technology was invented less than 35 years ago yet has come a long way. What began as a unique, though limited, way to develop low-end prototypes, has exploded into a critical component of the product development and manufacturing process with the ability to produce end-use parts for critical applications in markets such as industrial and aerospace and defense.
To help our customers and the larger technology community stay abreast of the changing world of additive manufacturing, we launched a glossary of the most important terms in the industry that you can bookmark here for easy access. To make it easier to digest, we’re also starting a blog series outlining ten terms to know in different sub-categories.
For our first post in the series, here are the top ten terms
for Additive Manufacturing Processes that our experts think everyone
Any additive manufacturing process that uses a binder to
chemically bond powder where the binder is placed on the top layer of powder
through small jets, usually using inkjet technology. One of the seven standard
categories defined by ASTM International (www.ASTM.org) for additive
A type of vat photopolymerization additive
manufacturing process where a projector under a transparent build
plate shines ultraviolet light onto the build layer, which
is against the transparent build plate. The part is then pulled
upward so that a new layer of liquid fills between the build
plate and the part, and the process is repeated. Digital light
synthesis is a continuous build process that does not create distinct layers.
A type of powder bed fusion additive manufacturing
process where a laser beam is used to melt powder material. The
beam is directed across the top layer of powder. The liquid material
solidifies to create the desired part. A new layer of powder is
placed on top, and the process is repeated. Also called laser powder bed
fusion, metal powder bed fusion, or direct metal laser sintering.
An additive manufacturing process where metal
powder is jetted, or wire is extruded from a CNC controlled three or
five-axis nozzle. The solid material is then melted by an energy source,
usually a laser or electron beam, such that the liquid metal
deposits onto the previous layers (or build plate) and then cools to a
solid. One of the ASTM defined standard categories for additive
A type of material extrusion additive manufacturing process
where a continuous filament of thermoplastic material is fed into a heated
extruder and deposited on the current build layer. It is the trademarked name
used for systems manufactured by the process inventor, Stratasys. Fused
filament fabrication is the generic term.
A type of powder bed fusion additive
manufacturing process where a laser is used to melt material on
the top layer of a powder bed. Also called metal powder bed
fusion or direct laser melting. Most often used to melt metal powder
but is used with plastics as with selective laser sintering.
A type of direct energy deposition additive
manufacturing process where a powder is directed into a
high-energy laser beam and melted before it is deposited on
the build layer. Also called laser powder forming.
Any additive manufacturing process where build
or support material is jetted through multiple small nozzles whose
position is computer controlled to lay down material to create a layer.
One of the ASTM defined standard categories for additive
A type of vat photopolymerization additive
manufacturing where a laser is used to draw a path on the
current layer, converting the liquid polymer into a solid. Stereolithography
was the first commercially available additive manufacturing process.
A class of additive manufacturing processes that utilizes
the hardening of a photopolymer with ultraviolet light. A vat of liquid is
filled with liquid photopolymer resin, and ultraviolet light is either traced
on the build surface or projected on it. Stereolithography is the most common
form of vat photopolymerization. The build layer can be on the top of the vat
of liquid or the bottom. One of the ASTM defined standard categories for
additive manufacturing processes.
We hope this new blog series will help to firm up your
knowledge of the ever-evolving world of additive manufacturing. For a list of
all of the key terms and definitions in the additive manufacturing world,
please visit our new glossary page at https://www.3dprinting-glossary.com/.
The glossary allows you to search by terms or download a PDF of the glossary in
its entirety to use as a reference guide.
Subscribe to the
PADT blog or check back soon for the next installment in our series of “Top Ten
Terms to Know in Additive Manufacturing.” We also welcome your feedback or
questions. Just drop us a line at here.
(Edited 3 August 2020 to reflect GrabCAD Print V1.44)
You haven’t really lived in the world of 3D printing until
you’ve had a part fail spectacularly due to open faces, self-intersecting faces
or inverted normals. Your part ends up looking more like modern art than
technical part. Or perhaps the design you have in mind has great geometry but
you wish that some parts could have regions that are dense and strong while
other regions would work with minimal infill.
One of this blog post about GrabCAD
Print software, we covered the basics of setting up and printing a part;
now we’ll look at several of the advanced features that save you set-up time
and result in better parts.
Behind the Scenes Repairs
Stratasys GrabCAD Print software, available as a free download, is crafted for users setting up solid models for 3D printing on Stratasys FDM and PolyJet printers. Once you’ve started using it, you’ll find one of its many useful advanced features is the automated STL file-repair option.
Most people still create solid models in CAD software then convert
the file to the industry-standard STL format before opening it in a given 3D
printer’s own set-up software. Every CAD package works a little differently to
generate an STL file, and once in a while the geometry just doesn’t get
perfectly meshed. Triangles may overlap, triangles may end up very long and
very skinny, or the vector that signals “point in” or “point out” can get
Traditionally, the 3D printer set-up program reacts to these
situations by doing one of two things: it prints exactly what you tell it to
print (producing weird holes and shifted layers) or it simply refuses to print
at all. Both situations are due to tiny errors in the conversion of a solid CAD
model to a tessellated surface.
GrabCAD Print, however, gives your file a once-over and
immediately flags sections of the model in need of repair. You can see a
color-coded representation of all the problem areas, choose to view just some
or all, and then click on Automatic Repair. No hand-editing, no counting layers
and identifying sections where the problems reside – just a click of the
virtual button and all the problem regions are identified, repaired and ready
for the next processing steps.
CAD vs. STL: Do So Much More with CAD
GrabCAD Print also uniquely allows users to bring in their models in the original CAD file-format (from SolidWorks, Autodesk, PTC, Siemens, etc.) or neutral formats, with no need to first convert it to STL. For FDM users, this means GrabCAD recognizes actual CAD bodies, faces, and features, letting you make build-modifications directly in the print set-up stage that previously would have required layer-by-layer slice editing, or couldn’t have been done at all.
For example, with a little planning ahead, you can bring in a multi-body CAD model (i.e., an assembly), assemble and group the parts, then direct GrabCAD to apply different parameters to each body. This way you can reinforce some areas at full density then change the infill pattern, layout, and density in other regions where full strength is unnecessary.
Here’s an example of a SolidWorks model intended for
printing with a solid lower base but lighter weight (saving material) in the
upper sections. It’s a holder for Post-It® notes, comprising three individual
parts – lower base, upper base and upper slot – combined and saved as an
Here was my workflow:
1 – I brought the SolidWorks assembly into GrabCAD, assembled and grouped all the bodies, selected an F370 Stratasys FDM printer, chose Print Settings of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and 0.010 inches layer height, and oriented the part.
2 -To ensure strength in the lower base, I selected just that section (you can do this either in the model tree or on the part itself) and opened the Model Settings menu at the right. Under Body, I chose Solid Infill.
3 – Next I selected the upper base, chose Hexagram, and changed the Infill Density to 60%.
4 – Lastly, I selected the upper slot section, chose Sparse, and changed the Infill Density to 35%.
5 – With all three sections defined, I clicked on Slice
Preview, sliced the model and used the slider bar on the left to step through
each section’s toolpath. For the screenshots, I turned off showing Support
Material; the yellow bits indicate where seams start (another parameter that
can be edited).
Here is each section highlighted, with screenshots of the
parameter choices and how the part infill looks when sliced:
So that you can really see the differences, I printed the part four times, stopping as the infill got partway through each section, then letting the final part print to completion. Here are the three partial sections, plus my final part:
Automated Hole Sizing Simplifies Adding Inserts
But like the old advertisements say, “But wait – there’s
more!” Do you use heat-set inserts a lot to create secure connections between
3D printed parts and metal hardware? Planning ahead for the right hole size,
especially if you have different design groups involved and fasteners may not
yet be decided, this is the feature for you.
In your CAD part model, draw a hole that is centered where you know the insert will go, give it a nominal diameter and use Cut/Extrude so that the hole is at least the depth of your longest candidate insert. Save the file in regular CAD format, not STL. Next bring your part into GrabCAD Print and go to Model Settings in the right-hand menu.
This time, click on Face (not Body) and Select the inner cylindrical wall of your hole. Several options will become active, including Apply Insert. When you check that box, a new drop-down will appear, giving you the choice of adding a heat-set insert, a helicoil insert or creating a custom size. Below that you select either Inch or Metric, and for either, the appropriate list of standard insert sizes appears.
Choose the insert you want, click Update in the upper middle of the GrabCAD screen, and you’ll see the hole-size immediately changed (larger or smaller as needed). The new diameter will match the required oversized dimensions for the correct (melted into place) part-fit. You can even do this in a sidewall! (For tips on putting inserts into FDM parts, particularly with a soldering iron, see Adding Inserts to 3D Printed Parts: Hardware Tips.)
Note that this way, you can print the overall part with a sparse infill, yet reinforce the area around the insert to create just the right mass to make a solid connection. The Sliced view will show the extra contours added around each hole.
To document the selected choices for whoever will be doing
the insert assembly, GrabCAD also generates a numbered, manufacturing-footnote that
lists each insert’s size; this information can be exported as a PDF file that
includes a separate close-up image of each insert’s location.
GrabCAD Print keeps adding very useful functions. Download it for free and try
it out with template versions of the various Stratasys 3D printers, then email
or call us to learn more.
is a globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development
and 3D Printing products and services. For more information on Stratasys
printers and materials, contact us at email@example.com.
PADT’s Austin Suder is a Solidworks CAD wizard,
a NASA design-competition (Two
for the Crew) winner and a teaching assistant for a course in additive
manufacturing (AM)/3D printing. Not bad for someone who’s just started his
sophomore year in mechanical engineering at Arizona State University.
In last month’s PADT blog post about adding heat-set inserts to 3D printed parts we gave a shout-out to Austin for providing our test piece, the off-road LED light unit he had designed and printed for his 2005 Ford F-150. Now we’ve caught up with him between classes to see what other additions he’s made to his vehicle, all created with his personal 3D printers and providing great experience for his part-time work with Stratasys industrial printers in PADT’s manufacturing department.
Q: What has inspired or led you to print multiple parts
for your truck?
I like cars, but I’m on a college budget so instead of complaining I found a way to fix the problem. I have five 3D printers at my house – why not put them to work! I understand the capabilities of AM so this has given me a chance to practice my CAD and manufacturing skills and push boundaries – to the point that people start to question my sanity.
Q: How did you end up making those rear-mount LED lights?
I wanted some reverse lights to match the ones on the front
of my truck, so I designed housings in SolidWorks and printed them in carbon
fiber PLA. Then I soldered in some high-power LED lights and wired them to my
reverse lights. These parts made great use of threaded inserts! The carbon
fiber PLA that I used was made by a company called Vartega that recycles carbon
fiber material. (Note: PADT is an investor of this company.)
Q: In the PADT parking lot, people can’t help but
notice your unusual tow-hitch. What’s the story with that?
I saw a similar looking hitch on another car that I liked
and my first thought was, “I bet I could make that better.” It’s made from ABS
painted chrome (not metal); I knew that I would never use it to tow anything,
so this opened up my design freedom. This has been on my truck for about a year
and the paint has since faded, but the printed parts are still holding strong.
This part also gets questioned a lot! It’s both a blessing and a curse. In most cases it starts when I’m getting gas and the person behind me starts staring and then questions the thing that’s attached to the back of my truck. The conversation then progresses to me explaining what additive is, to a complete stranger in the middle of a gas station. This is the blessing part because I’m always down for a conversation about AM; the downside is I hate being late for work.
Q: What about those tow shackles on your front bumper?
Those parts were printed in ABS – they’re not meant for use,
just for looks. I’ve seen towing shackles on Jeeps and other trucks but never
liked the look of them, so again I designed my own in this pentagon-shape. I
originally printed them in red but didn’t like the look when I installed them;
the unusual shading comes because I spray-painted them black then rubbed off some
of the paint while wet so the red highlights show through.
Q: Have you printed truck parts in any other
Yes, I‘ve used a carbon-fiber (CF) nylon and flexible TPU
(thermoplastic polyurethane) on filament printers and a nylon-like resin on a
The CF nylon worked well when I realized my engine bay lacked the real estate needed for a catch can I’d bought. This was a problem for about five minutes – then I realized I have the power of additive and engineered a mount which raised the can and holds it at an angle. The mount makes great use of complex geometry because AM made it easy to manufacture a strong but custom-shaped part.
After adding the catch can to my engine, I needed a way to
keep the hoses from moving around when driving so I designed a double S-clip in
TPU. The first design didn’t even come close to working – the hoses kept coming
loose when driving – so I evaluated it and realized that the outer walls needed
to be thicker. I made the change and printed it again, and this time it worked
great. In fact, it worked so well that when I took my truck to the Ford
dealership for some warranty work, they went missing. (It’s OK Ford, you can
have them – I’ll just print another set.)
Other parts I printed in TPU included clips for the brake-lines. I had seen that my original clip had snapped off, so when I had the truck up on jacks, I grabbed my calipers and started designing a new, improved version. Thirty minutes later I had them in place.
I also made replacement hood dampeners from TPU since they
looked as though they’d been there for the life of the truck. I measured the
old ones, used SolidWorks to recreate them (optimized for AM), printed a pair
and installed them. They’ve been doing great in the Arizona heat without any
My last little print was done on my SLA system in a material
that behaves like nylon. (This was really just me showing off.) The plastic
clips that hold the radiator cover had broken off, which led me to use threaded
sheet-metal inserts to add machine threading to the fixture. I then purchased chrome
bolts and made some 3D printed cup-washers with embossed text for added personalization
Q: What future automotive projects do you have in
I’m working on a multi-section bumper and am using the
project to standardize my production process – the design, material choice, sectioning
and assembling. I got the idea because I saw someone with a tube frame car and
thought it looked great, which led to me start thinking about how I could
incorporate that onto my truck.
When I bought my F-150, it had had a dent in the rear bumper.
I was never happy with this but didn’t have the money to get it fixed, so at this
point the tube-frame look came full circle! I decided that I was going to 3D
print a tube-frame bumper to replace the one with a dent. I started by removing
the original bumper, taking measurements and locating possible mounting points
for my design. Then I made some sketches and transferred them into SolidWorks.
The best part about this project is that I have additive on
my side. Typical tube frame construction is limited by many things like bend
allowance, assembly, and fabrication tooling. AM has allowed me to design
components that could not be manufactured with traditional methods. The bumper
will be constructed of PVC sections connected by 50 ABS printed parts, all
glued together, smoothed with Bondo and filler primer then painted black. This
is a large project! It will take a lot
of hand-finishing, but it will be perfect.
Q: If you were given the opportunity to work on any printer
technology and/or material, what would you want to try working with?
Great question! If I had the opportunity to use AM for
automotive components, I would redesign internal engine components and print
them with direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), one of PADT’s other AM
technologies. I would try printing part like piston rods, pistons, rocker arms,
and cylinder valves. Additive is great for complex geometries with exotic
Go Austin! Can’t wait to see what your truck looks
like when you visit over semester break.
To learn more about fused deposition modeling
(FDM/filament), stereolithography (SLA), selective laser sintering (SLS) and
DMLS printers and materials, contact the PADT Manufacturing group; get your
questions answered, have some sample parts printed, and share your success
PADT Inc. is a
globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development and
3D Printing products and services. For more information on Insight, GrabCAD and
Stratasys products, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you ever wondered about choosing a plain versus funky infill-style for filament 3D-printing? Amongst the ten standard types (no, the cat infill design is not one of them), some give you high strength, some greatly decrease material use or printing time, and others are purposely tailored with an end-use in mind.
Highly detailed Insight slicing software from Stratasys gives you the widest range of possibilities; the basic versions are also accessible from GrabCAD Print, the direct-CAD-import, cloud-connected slicing software that offers an easy approach for all levels of 3D print users.
A part that is mimicking or replacing a metal design would do best when built with Solid infill to give it weight and heft, while a visual-concept model printed as five different test-versions may work fine with a Sparse infill, saving time and material. Here at PADT we printed a number of sample cubes with open ends to demonstrate a variety of the choices in action. Check out these hints for evaluating each one, and see the chart at the end comparing build-time, weight and consumed material.
Basic Infill Patterns
Solid (also called Alternating Raster) This is the default pattern, where each layer has straight fill-lines touching each other, and the layer direction alternates by 90 degrees. This infill uses the most material but offers the highest density; use it when structural integrity and super-low porosity are most important.
Solid (Alternating Raster)
Sparse Raster lines for Sparse infill also run in one direction per layer, alternating by layer, but are widely spaced (the default spacing is 0.080 inches/2 mm). In Insight, or using the Advanced FDM settings in GrabCAD, you can change the width of both the lines and the spaces.
Sparse Double Dense As you can imagine, Sparse Double Dense achieves twice the density of regular Sparse: it deposits in two directions per layer, creating an open grid-pattern that stacks up throughout the part.
Sparse High Density Just to give you one more quick-click option, this pattern effectively sits between Sparse Double Dense and Solid. It lays rasters in a single direction per layer, but not as closely spaced as for Solid.
Hexagram The effect of this pattern looks similar to a honeycomb but it’s formed differently. Each layer gets three sets of raster lines crossing at different angles, forming perfectly aligned columns of hexagons and triangles. Hexagram is time-efficient to build, lightweight and strong in all directions.
Advanced Infill Patterns (via Custom Groups in Insight)
Hexagon By laying down rows of zig-zag lines that alternately bond to each other and bend away, Hexagon produces a classic honeycomb structure (every two rows creates one row of honeycomb). The pattern repeats layer by layer so all vertical channels line up perfectly. The amount of build material used is just about one-third that of Solid but strength is quite good.
Permeable Triangle A layer-by-layer shifting pattern of triangles and straight lines creates a strong infill that builds as quickly as Sparse, but is extremely permeable. It is used for printing sacrificial tooling material (i.e., Stratsys ST130) that will be wrapped with composite material and later dissolved away.
Permeable Tubular This infill is formed by a 16-layer repeating pattern deposited first as eight varying wavy layers aligned to the X axis and then the same eight layers aligned to the Y axis. The resulting structure is a series of vertical cylinders enhanced with strong cross-bars, creating air-flow channels highly suited to tooling used on vacuum work-holding tables.
Gyroid (so cool we printed it twice) The Gyroid pattern belongs to a class of mathematically minimal surfaces, providing infill strength similar to that of a hexagon, but using less material. Since different raster spacings have quite an effect, we printed it first with the default spacing of 0.2 inches and then widened that to 0.5 inches. Print time and material use dropped dramatically.
Schwarz D (Diamond) This alternate style of minimal surface builds in sets of seven different layers along the X-axis, ranging from straight lines to near-sawtooth waves, then flipping to repeat the same seven layers along the Y-axis. The Schwarz D infill balances strength, density and porosity. As with the Gyroid, differences in raster spacing have a big influence on the material use and build-time.
Digging Deeper Into Infill Options
Infill Cell Type/0.2 spacing
Alternating Raster (Solid)
1 h 57 min
6.29 cu in.
Sparse Double Dense
1 hr 37 min
4.52 cu in.
1 h 49 min
2.56 cu in.
Hexagram (3 crossed rasters)
1 h 11 min.
3.03 cu in.
1 h 11 min.
3.04 cu in.
Permeable Tubular – small
2 h 5 min.
2.68 cu in.
Gyroid – small
1 h 48 min.
2.39 cu in.
Schwarz Diamond (D) – small
1 h 35 min.
3.04 cu in.
Infill Cell Type/0.5 spacing
Permeable Tubular – Large
1 h 11 min.
1.33 cu in.
Gyroid – Large
1.29 cu in.
Schwarz Diamond (D) – Large
1.51 cu in.
Hopefully this information helps you perfect your design for optimal strength or minimal material-use or fastest printing. If you’re still not sure which way to go, contact our PADT Manufacturing group: get your questions answered, have some sample parts printed and discover what infill works best for the job at hand.
is a globally recognized provider of Numerical Simulation, Product Development
and 3D Printing products and services. For more information on Insight, GrabCAD
and Stratasys products, contact us at email@example.com.
PADT is excited to announce the release of the latest FDM material from Stratasys: TPU 92A.
Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) is a type of elastomer material, known for its flexibility, resilience, tear resistance, and high elongation. It’s a highly process-able material which makes it ideal for additive manufacturing.
TPU 92A is an elastomeric material that is ideal for prototyping highly functional, large, durable, complex elastomer parts.
This material brings the benefits of an elastomer to the accurate and easy-to-use F123 3D Printer. Combined with soluble support, it lets you create simple to complex elastomer parts, and through printing on the F123 Series gives product developers more tools to expand their prototyping capabilities with reliable accuracy.
Curious to learn more about the unique properties that make TPU 92A such a great option for prototyping?Schedule a meeting to see the material for yourself.Click the link below to start a conversation with PADT’s resident material experts, in order to discuss the capabilities of this Thermoplastic Polyurethane material, and how your company can benefit from using it.
Don’t miss this unique opportunity, schedule a meeting today!
FDM Sacrificial Tooling: Using Additive Manufacturing for Sacrificial Composite Tool Production
Additive manufacturing has seen an explosion of material options in recent years. With these new material options comes significant improvements in mechanical properties and the potential for new applications that extend well beyond prototyping; one such application being sacrificial tooling.
Traditional composite manufacturing techniques work well to produce basic shapes with constant cross sections. However, complex composite parts with hollow interiors present unique manufacturing challenges. However, with FDM sacrificial tooling, no design compromise is necessary.
Download the white paper to discover how FDM sacrificial tooling can dramatically streamline the production process for complicated composite parts with hollow interiors.
Additively Manufactured: Best Practices for Composite Tooling with 3D Printing
The advanced composites industry has a continual need for innovative tooling solutions. Conventional tooling is typically heavy, costly and time-consuming to produce. New applications, product improvements and the demand for faster, lower-cost tool creation challenge composite product manufacturers to innovate and remain competitive.
The use of additive manufacturing (or “3D printing”), and specifically FDM, for composite tooling has demonstrated considerable cost and lead time reductions while providing numerous other advantages such as immense design freedom and rapid iteration, nearly regardless of part complexity.
Download the white paper to learn more about the various advantages and capabilities of composite tooling with additive over traditional manufacturing methods, and discover the best practices for ensuring that your composite tooling process is efficient as possible.
Introduction to Additive Manufacturing for Composites
Additive manufacturing encompasses methods of fabrication that build objects through the successive addition of material, as opposed to subtractive methods such as CNC machining, that remove material until a final shape is achieved. Composite fabrication is one of the most original forms of additive manufacturing. Steel manufacturing facilities require a very minimum labor for construction and doesn’t require as much material to build thus saving here.
Whether the process involves wet lay-up, hand lay-up of prepreg materials, or automated fiber placement (AFP), methods of composite manufacture are distinctly additive in nature, building up to final part forms typically one layer at a time. However, the nature of additive manufacturing has been revolutionized with the advent of the 3D printing industry.
Strong, resilient, fiber-reinforced thermoplastics. Lightweight, low-cost composite tooling. Explore these and other characteristics and benefits of additively manufactured composites in the e-book “Introduction to Additive Manufacturing for Composites.”
This post is the eleventh 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 1-800-293-PADT.
When it comes to delivering accurate, robust, and feature-rich additive manufacturing, commonly called 3D Printing, to professional users, one brand of systems stands above all the rest: Stratasys. For over a decade PADT has been a reseller of these outstanding machines in the four-corners states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. In fact, our leadership position in the Additive Manufacturing space is built on the foundation of our sales and support history with Stratasys.
Stratasys, The World Leader in Additive Manufacturing
There is one simple reason why Stratasys is the world leader in Additive Manufacturing systems and why so many of our customers keep buying Stratasys systems: They Work. The whole point of 3D Printing is that you can go from a computer model to a real part as quickly and easily as possible. Stratasys has created a complete set of hardware, material, and software to make that happen. For hardware, they offer two additive manufacturing technologies: FDM and PolyJet.
FDM, or Fused Deposition Modeling, is the most common technology because it is reliable, accurate, and builds strong parts. FDM was invented by Stratasys over 25 years ago and still forms the foundation of its product line. It is a layered deposition process that melts a variety of plastics that are then extruded through a nozzle to draw the shape of each layer. From the desktop MakerBot machines to the industry favorite FORTUS 900, there is a machine that works for every need. Recently, we have been selling a large number of F370’s to new and existing customers. FDM systems come in a variety of sizes, speeds, costs, and most importantly, material options. And best of all, the majority of FDM systems come with Stratasys’ patented soluble support material that makes support removal as easy as dropping your part into a cleaning system.
If you need greater refinement, the ability to change material, or color, then PolyJet technology is your ideal solution. The power of PolyJet is that it uses inkjet print heads to deposit tiny dots of liquid material on a build layer. That material is then hardened with an ultraviolet lamp. What is cool is that you can have multiple inkjet print heads and therefore deposit a mix of material within a given layer. This allows you to make parts with very hard, or very soft material in the same build. Or, to mix clear and colors in the same build. Our customers use Polyjet printers to make everything from accurate medical models of organs to molds for plastic injection molding. No other 3D Printing technology is as versatile as the PolyJet machines from Stratasys.
The PADT Sales Experience
Lots of people sell 3D Printers. We know because we have been doing it for over fifteen years. And as the technology has become more popular, more and more people are getting into the industry. Our experience and technically driven sales approach is why customers keep coming to PADT when they have so many choices. Our sales team is not about this month’s sales goal. They are about building, and more often than not, growing our relationship with customers new and old. We are all about understanding what you really want to get done, and then finding the right combination of Additive Manufacturing system, accessories, and software that will make it happen.
That expertise comes from the fact that we have been running a 3D Printing service since 1994. We know the real world of Additive Manufacturing. No other reseller can bring our expertise and experience to your aid.
Support that Goes Above and Beyond
Once you purchase a system, your journey with PADT hits full swing. Our engineers will help you install, train your users, and then be there when you need us for maintenance and repair. Or simply to answer your questions. We recently won a series of competitive situations where customers had a choice of who to hire to support their Stratasys systems. They chose PADT over other solutions for one simple reason: we know what we are doing and we really do care. Our team has driven through snow storms, stayed with machines late into the night, and personally shipped replacement parts just so they could get customer’s machines back online and running as quickly as possible.
Talk to PADT about your Additive Manufacturing Needs
Regardless of what systems you currently have, or if you don’t have any 3D Printing capability in-house, now is the time to talk to PADT. We have never had a better offering of solutions in terms of price, performance, and variety of capability. We are helping universities establish labs, Aerospace companies 3D Print hardware for launch vehicles, and consumer products companies shorten their design cycle. It may be time for you to upgrade or add a new material or technology. Or maybe you just need some accessories to get more out of the equipment you have. Regardless of where you are in your Additive Manufacturing journey, PADT is here to help you get more out of your investment.