11 April 2017 10:15
With the increasing sophistication of additive manufacturing technologies, the doors have been opened for applications far beyond simple desktop printing and prototyping. 3D printers have grown in terms of size, sophistication and flexibility, to the extent there are now models available that are capable of printing furniture, car chassis, and potentially even larger designs. At the time of writing, the European Space Agency’s own 3D printing platform -- while not commercially available -- is theoretically capable of printing objects of any size using binder jetting technology. [caption id="attachment_1311" align="alignright" width="300"] ...
03 April 2017 16:43
Ever since the birth of additive manufacturing, questions about the technology’s impact on data protection and intellectual property have continued to arise. Initially, when additive manufacturing technology was exclusively used as a tool for product design and prototyping, these questions focused on intellectual property. This was a natural concern, considering that the technology would theoretically let anyone with access to the original CAD file and suitable equipment create a perfect 3D print of the design. As additive manufacturing as grown to establish itself as a viable production tool across a number ...
24 March 2017 16:45
A recent survey revealed a number of fascinating developments in the way additive manufacturing companies’ long-term goals are evolving: Increasing project turnaround speed emerged as the main goal for most companies, followed closely by reducing operational costs More than 50% of companies surveyed were actively looking to develop AM as a production tool rather than purely a prototyping one However, the answers for how to best achieve these goals proves elusive. There are numerous elements to consider, and customer requirements and expectations are evolving year by year. However, one essential element ...
17 March 2017 13:49
One of the principle advantages additive manufacturing techniques have over traditional machining is the dramatic reduction in material waste created during the production process. Not only does this result in tangible cost savings, it also helps make a strong case for additive manufacturing as a truly sustainable, cost-effective technology. Selective laser sintering (SLS) methods are especially attractive in this regard, thanks to the potential for reusing waste material at the end of a print run -- an opportunity to dramatically reduce material costs. Once printing is complete, all leftover material ...
10 March 2017 17:23
The typical customer journey has changed a lot over the past two decades, with the rapid rise of online business meaning that companies are now engaging with their customers through more channels than ever before. Although more than 90% of customers requesting additive manufacturing services still prefer to pick up the phone and speak to a real human being, more and more prefer the speed and convenience of ordering online. It’s therefore vital to understand these different channels of business and incorporate them into a single, integrated customer experience strategy. ...
03 March 2017 16:31
There are currently a considerable number of different CAD file formats used for 3D modelling. This means companies offering AM services must to be willing to exercise flexibility when receiving customer requests, and have effective systems in place for converting files into the formats supported by their machines. However, with the number of different formats used by 3D printers at the time of writing, some of which are tied to specific hardware or additive manufacturing software, this can quickly become a costly exercise, as companies are required to purchase multiple ...
24 February 2017 9:55
We’ve seen some incredibly exciting developments in additive manufacturing technology in recent years. At RP Platform, we’ve been especially excited by the newest developments in hybrid processes -- prototyping and production approaches that combine AM with ‘traditional’ manufacturing techniques. For example, certain parts of a product could be created using AM techniques, while others could be developed using CNC machining. This ‘best of both worlds’ approach has been around for some time, but it is only recently that we have begun to see it reflected in additive manufacturing technology. In recent ...
17 February 2017 16:31
Any quality 3D printed product -- whether it’s a prototype or production part -- begins with a quality file, with all data properly checked and any errors repaired. A process for preparing the 3D model for printing should be established as part of an effective workflow management plan, with the appropriate systems and tools put in place to minimise any chances of human error. As your foundation, before sending any file to 3D model for conversion into STL format for printing, consider the following six areas:   1) Will your 3D printer and choice of ...
30 January 2017 13:35
Whatever the nature and scale of a project, the delivery of quality 3D-printed components always begins in the same way: with a clear, accurate customer request. Unfortunately, many additive manufacturing specialists have found that rapid prototyping projects often experience problems at their very earliest stages due to incomplete manufacturing requirements, data errors, or product specifications that will not be possible to print. These might be technical errors in the submitted CAD file that will render the part unprintable. Alternatively, there may be a lack of clarity regarding the prototype’s purpose, which ...
20 January 2017 11:00
The Software as a Service (SaaS) model has grown rapidly in popularity, with worldwide revenue from such services reaching $3.2 billion in 2016 -- more than doubling in the space of just five years. The model has already been used to deliver software solutions for everything from business automation to customer management and document storage, with new concepts being unveiled regularly.  In the world of additive manufacturing, the potential rewards offered by this new model are great, providing rapid prototyping bureaus with easy access to a range of cutting-edge tools at ...