Always think 3D printing with automation – challenges and many new opportunities

We show you why you should always think along with automation 3D printing. No matter what demands you have on components or printers – we love the challenge and are always amazed ourselves at how many new possibilities additive manufacturing opens up, even in industrial companies. There is almost nothing that is not possible with this revolutionary technology. We’ve compiled solutions that have responded to challenges in geometries, support locations, printability, Z-height as a price driver, undercuts, part quality, part placement and much more. Best practices in 3D printing additive manufacturing.

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Table of contents:

Challenges in the field of SLM

Additive manufacturing with SLM involves exceeding the melting point of the material. It is the established technology for using metals as raw material for 3D printers. As with machining, the printing process is also based on the software (EOS) – a smart technology. Here, programs Materialize Magics are used to be able to ensure the best quality of the components. Over the years, we have gained a lot of experience with companies and address the most interesting challenges that have been overcome.

Why support in metal printing, the components are in the powder and do not need to be supported, right?

The support in the powder melting process mainly serves the regional heat dissipation of the laser energy. Since there is still a lot of insulating air enclosed in the loose powder, this material cannot dissipate the heat and local overheating can occur. This can lead to very rough surfaces and defects. The overheating is dissipated by means of a support structure. But there is more: For additive manufacturing, for example, one can avoid geometrically flat angles and design the component with round shapes and few hard edges. But it is also possible, following the example of VELO3D, to improve the machine and process in such a special way that generally very little or no support structure is required.

Why is my thin, large component much more expensive than the small, solid component? How much does the material price factor into the calculation?

In the SLM process, the price of the material hardly affects the final price, but the build height and resulting runtime of the machine do. We can also build very large parts using a dual laser. It is best to place large components as flat as possible on the build plate. Here we often find the happy medium between best quality and best price. With high energy consumption, the material price per component is low.

I need special alloys for my component. Is 3D printing useful here?

We process aluminum (AISi10Mg) in house. We can produce plastics in the FDM process more versatile in house (ABS, PETG, ESD-ABS, etc.). Other metals and plastics can be produced externally by arrangement. But since our aluminum alloy is versatile, we can cover most applications. For quality reasons, we deal a lot with aluminum in our production and have long-term partners for other metals.

Can 3D printing map all undercuts well?

This depends mainly on the angle towards the build plate and how well you can remove the support structure there and how accessible everything is. The solution: rounding, wooden structures and good accessibility for post process.

Anodizing is not possible with our AlSi10Mg – so what to do?

We have also found a solution for this challenge. Powder coating and painting.

Limitation of the installation space 220x220x230 mm – we simply break the limits

Since our construction space is 220x220x230 mm, many people ask themselves whether they can have their components printed by us at all. Our solution: Share the components already during the construction or take an offer via our partners.

Another challenge: wall thicknesses below 0.5 mm cannot be mapped

This is true: Due to the limited laser focus, wall thicknesses below 0.5 mm cannot be imaged. However, we do not put the cart before the horse, but go back to the start or construction and do not design walls and edges below 0.5 mm.

What if our general tolerances and surface qualities are not sufficient?

It happens again and again that our general tolerances and surface qualities are not sufficient. Our solution to this challenge: We rework the parts, for example with CNC support, and thus balance everything out again.

3D printing is often very expensive: Is that true?

This challenge can be handled well, because component positioning plays a major role here. The component orientation should already be planned for during the design phase. For prototypes, the flatter the better. For series, it is best to place as many components as possible on the build plate in order to use as little xy area as possible.

Mass production (larger than 1000 pieces) often only makes sense for individualizations

If mass production in 3D printing is to be profitable, all aspects in the design must also be designed for 3D printing. Factors such as the least amount of support material, optimal post-processing possibilities and as many parts as possible on the build plate must be taken into account.

How can I tell what needs to be optimized for 3D printing on my part?

At TROVUS Tech, we naturally offer design and simulation services for all materials. Thus, you are not left on your own with your components. We can optionally take over the complete design or come in as support and advice for your designers.

Challenges FDM

In additive manufacturing with FDM, there are also always exciting challenges for us 3D printers, which we have mastered for our customers until today in 2021. Our smart additive manufacturing (common software: EOS, we use Simplify 3D, Prusa Slicer or Cura) supports us in the production of parts for both industry and SMEs who want to use the opportunities of 3D printing for processes of automation. More information can be found under our news as well as in the newsletter.

Is the necessary support material a problem?

Not at all, because 3D printing-optimized design makes everything customizable.

Can each component be printed with the same parameters?

In order to obtain optimum component quality, adapted construction parameters are required for each component geometry. These are determined by us specifically.

Unfortunately, 100% tightness is not given in FDM printing due to the layer structure

With the help of resins or acetone, the surface can be smoothed and thus sealed waterproof.

Is it true that tolerances are often not accurate or fluctuate?

Tolerances can be individually controlled by the flow behavior of the plastic. In addition, different nozzle diameters can be used to create finer or coarser degrees of detail. Here, the smaller the nozzle, the longer the build time.

Let us get in touch – we would like to convince you of our service

Are you also interested in our service (additive manufacturing) and are you yourself facing the challenge of advancing your automation and production with 3D printing solutions? Then get in touch with us. We see ourselves as a service provider for SMEs and industry and are experiencing renewed interest in our services in 2021. Feel free to browse our news and subscribe to our newsletter. Or simply call us at +49 9461 9559020. 

This post is also available in: German