Miller 3D recently completed a project for a client who requested multiple 3D printed automotive parts for personal applications. While the case may seem pedestrian, the process to create the automotive parts is unique in nature.
The uniqueness centers around the ability to build the requested automotive parts using additive and subtractive manufacturing.
Additive manufacturing is a process that involves building 3D objects by building layers of material, such as plastic or metal, upon layers of the same material to form a predesigned 3D object or shape.
Why use additive and subtractive manufacturing for a project when additive and subtractive manufacturing are completely opposite just as the names suggest?
In this case, one builds, the other finishes. Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, had a large role in the quality and strength of the automotive parts.
“Additive manufacturing was used to create a near-net-part that simulates a casting process, says Matt Jones, Manager at Miller 3D, “Then the automotive parts were machined to the required tolerances.”
While additive manufacturing was utilized to build the automotive parts, subtractive manufacturing was employed in the final stages of the project.
Contrary to additive manufacturing, subtractive manufacturing is the process of tools cutting material away at a solid block of material from various angles, leaving the desired 3D shape or object intact, and does not require post processing.
Matt explains that traditionally, small batch castings for machining from solid billet, a solid block or chunk of metal, is expensive and time consuming. In this instance, this wasn’t the case as a result of utilizing both additive and subtractive manufacturing to build and finish the requested automotive parts.
One of the many other advantages of 3D printing objects is the time required to deliver parts and apply them for usage — “We were able to print multiple parts and finish machining within a week timeframe,” Matt adds.