Speaking of material… I have a wide range of suitable materials for our 3D printer from Formlabs. Currently there are more than 20 different materials available.
Depending on what the construction requires, I can choose a material that is similar to a PC/ABS (plastic for most cases, for example, for remote controls etc.) or a silicone.
Since we often use silicone switching elements, the material “Elastic”, for example, is a good alternative for a quick initial evaluation of key geometries and tactility.
In the next step, I focus on the software. Formlabs has developed a special program that allows me to place what I created at the beginning in the CAD program on the printing platform and install the necessary support structures.
The Idea Comes to Life
Now things are getting serious! All the data are available and are now being transferred to the printer.
After a few hours of printing, depending on the complexity of the print, I can take the finished part out of the 3D printer. The object is now put into a so-called “washing machine.”
Now, one wonders, of course:
“What’s he doing with a washing machine in a development department?”
The „Wash“ by Formlabs is not a normal washing machine. It is filled with isopropanol and washes off the remaining material (resin). This process takes only a few minutes.
Afterwards I take the prototype and put it into the „Cure“ for a few more minutes. This is another special machine that is used to harden the material.
Finally, I carefully free the prototype from its supporting structure. It is now finished and can be used for the first time.
Never again without it!
My conclusion about the new possibilities of 3D printing is very positive.
I can now create prototypes suitable for 3D printing at a fraction of the cost and time previously required. The printed parts are suitable for evaluating different designs and certain functional tests as well as for early trial stages.