Month: March 2017

Can You Take the Heat? Miller 3D Prints Fixtures to Withstand Scorching Temperatures

3D printing applications are seemingly endless. Today, automotive companies 3D print to shred operating costs, retailers 3D print to reduce waste, doctors 3D print to save lives. It’s remarkable how materials such as nylon, fiberglass and Kevlar can be 3D printed and applied to push the boundaries of innovation.

Miller 3D was given the opportunity to push the boundaries of innovation, manufacturing parts using some of the world’s strongest materials that also maintain integrity when exposed to blistering heat.

3D print fixtures heat temperature

Mark X printing the Astronics’ fixture

A local company, Astronics Corporation, a leading supplier of advanced technologies and products to the global aerospace, defense and semiconductor industries, recently had the need for fixtures to support one of their upcoming projects. Astronics’ engineers approached Miller 3D with a project that would ultimately be manufactured with Markforged 3D printed materials. 

“Due to the high mechanical properties of Markforged materials, we were able to successfully 3D print many of the required fixtures to fit Astronics’ needs”, Matt Jones, Manager at Miller 3D, explains.

The machine responsible for bringing these fixtures to life is the Mark X, a large 3D printer that can focus down to a 50-micron resolution and build high-strength, precision end-use parts from materials like carbon fiber, or in this case, Onyx.

For reference, the diameter of a human hair is 50 microns, 40 microns is considered the lower limit of visibility of a human eye, and a 25-micron resolution is necessary to see white blood cells.

3D Printed Fixture made from Onyx

3D printed fixture made from Onyx

Astronics’ fixtures were printed out of Onyx, which is a chopped carbon fiber nylon mix reinforced with high temperature fiberglass. 

Matt adds that continuous fiber high temperature fiberglass was key in maintaining part accuracy and preventing warping during the heating process.

So, how hot? The parameters that these fixtures needed to withstand were 180 degrees Celsius or 356 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately two hours. The Astronics engineers were also able to include geometry into this fixture that could only be 3D printed, not machined, that improved the functionality of the fixture.

A case where engineers can manufacture to true design intent and drastically reduce the cost and timeframe using 3D printing.

Thanks to 3DXpert, Direct Metal Printing Will Never Be The Same

Direct Metal Printing SolutionDirect metal manufacturing is a process of producing complex metal parts using a high-precision laser. Metal particles melt and mend to previously printed metal layers without the need for an adhesive component. Direct metal printing requires a different approach than 3D printing plastics and other materials.

The final result: the production of parts that can not be created using subtractive and traditional 3D printing technologies.

The absence of an integrated solution was just another layer of difficulty added to an already complex direct metal manufacturing process. In the past, work flow would be interrupted by the presence of several various software solutions to complete one project increasing the odds of an issue; that no longer exists with 3DXpert from 3D Systems.

“There’s never been this level of control in direct metal printing until now,” Matt Jones, Manager at Miller 3D, points out. “Before 3DXpert the user relied on STL file input and limited choices for support generation.”

3DXpert introduces control from design to manufacturing, an asset for users that provides flexibility and simplicity. Furthermore, integrating the entire process reduces the need for different solutions, optimizes and enables you to print quality parts, and shortens the project timeline.

“The fact that 3DXpert can import native CAD files gives the operator full CAD tools directly in the operating environment”, Matt explains. “Support generation tools make it easy to add, delete, create and unlimited amount of support geometries that minimize the efforts in post-processing.”

Also included in the integration solution is the ‘ideal mix’ of tools to automate repetitive tasks while continuing to control every detail of design and manufacturing. 3DXpert also gives ultimate control during the sintering process by allowing a designer to alter the laser parameters in different areas of the part to more reflect the true design intent.

Global support from 3D Systems and the production of quality parts manufactured in reduced time make 3DXpert an integrated solution for all industries.

Feel free to visit the original article by 3DSystems here. We’ve also put it below for your convenience.


1) Import DataVisualization of importing CAD and other 3D Models into 3DXpert

  • Import data from all CAD formats (B-rep, DXF, IGES, STEP, VDA, Parasolid (including binary), SAT (ACIS), STL and SAB), native read formats including PMI data (such as AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor, CATIA, Creo Elements/Pro, Siemens NX, SolidWorks and SolidEdge) as well as virtually all Mesh formats.
  • Take advantage of continued work with B-rep data (solids and surfaces). Reading B-rep geometry without downgrading to mesh maintains data integrity including analytic geometry, part topology and color coding. This allows preparing the part for printing using history based parametric features.
  • Start working immediately with automated healing of both STL and B-rep geometry.