Miller 3D Utilizes Unlikely Combination Of Additive And Subtractive Manufacturing To Build Parts

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.


Injection Molding With 3D Printing Changes Manufacturing Landscape

In the past, additive manufacturing was absent from injection molding, making injection molding realistic for only a handful of large companies that could afford the high cost, production demand and risk related to the process.

Thanks to 3D printing, this is no longer the case — additive manufacturing is capable of producing end use parts and prototypes at the fraction of the cost, and time, of traditional or non-3D printed injection molding.

Materials such as medical grade materials, acetal, elastomers and polycarbonates have been tested and successfully injected into 3D printed molds — revolutionizing the way we work with various materials and apply it to its respective setting. This means medical, industrial and engineering industries now rely on 3D printed injection molding that will save companies time, money, and in some cases — save lives.

Curt Thornton, Teleflex Principle Engineer for Surgical R&D, agrees, “I’ve been really impressed with the insert molds made from the 3D Systems printer. These tools really give us an assembly that represents a production process at a fraction of the cost.”

Additionally, the 3D printed molds improve turnaround times on projects because molds can be designed in as little as a day, compared to a timeline that may take weeks in traditional soft/hard tooling.

Another unique benefit of 3D printing is digital library for molds and other parts from the project that can be referenced at anytime, and can be shared with anyone. It’s also important to note 3D printing molds will last hundreds of times in the production process, depending on the material, an important feature when short production runs are necessary.

“Small-scale injection molding processes are more approachable,” Evan Merrill, Miller 3D, and mentions the playing field has been leveled, referring to the shift from traditional injection molding to additive manufacturing injection molding.

Pushing the limits of traditional manufacturing, 3D printing has paved the way for injection molding to become apart of various industries’ manufacturing processes. Today, injection molding with 3D printing offers various benefits that may have been an afterthought a decade ago, and Miller 3D is at the forefront of this revolution.

About Miller 3D

Miller 3D Printing is a division of AW Miller, a leader in machine tool technology solutions and the exclusive distributor in Pennsylvania and New York for Mazak Corporation, the largest machine tool builder in the world.

Today, Miller 3D Printing is at the forefront of this revolutionary technology, helping customers internationally to benefit from all the advantages of 3D printing. The company recognized early on that new 3D printing technologies were the perfect complement to the metalworking and manufacturing solutions it has offered for more than 40 years.


Saving Lives and Transforming Healthcare Through 3D Printing

Technological advances in 3D printing and Healthcare have lead to Miller 3D partnering with medical professionals to improve how we perform healthcare.

In the last decade, there have been remarkable advancements in healthcare resulting in longer lifespans, a decrease in mortality rates, and drastic improvement in surgical operations. While healthcare breakthroughs are deservingly attributed to the brilliant minds in the healthcare profession, 3D printing has also played a significant role in improving and advancing the practice of medicine.

Miller 3D is transforming how we provide and perform healthcare, providing the industry’s most innovative 3d printing systems to medical professionals in the industry.

Local medical schools, more specifically, the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB), are using 3D printers for educational purposes, patient communication, surgical planning and research. The endless applications are a large step in the right direction to improve healthcare.

Matt Jones, Manager at Miller 3D agrees, “Because a CT scan of the internal body can be converted to a 3D printable object students can learn in far greater detail how anatomy works and therefore have a deeper understanding of actual medical practice.“

3D printing human parts supplies professionals with an opportunity to practice surgery with greater accuracy while gaining valuable experience in a controlled environment.

Additionally, students have access to tangible, accurate replicas of patients organs that are  experiencing a disorder and disease, and are now able to interact with the “body parts” through a hands-on experience. 3D printing will continue to provide a critical service to medical professionals.

In addition to medical campuses making the most of the 3D printing Miller 3D provides, personalized parts that are produced from 3d printing machines have life-saving ramifications. For example, if a patient has suffered an abdominal aortic aneurysm — swelling of the major blood vessel away from the heart through your abdomen to the rest of the body — it is imperative to monitor blood flow and recognize internal damage.

3D Printed Heart from Patient - Healthcare

3D Printed Heart from Patient

By the same token, Miller 3D recently 3D printed a heart with the ProJet MJP 2500 and it displays exceptional detail. An important characteristic when it comes to practicing medicine because medical personnel rely on the model’s accuracy to properly treat patients.

“The fact that a heart for example can be printed in various cross sections will give medical personnel in depth look of a patient before any surgery is required. Matt adds, “This also holds true on surgical planning where lifelike textures can be 3D printed and practice surgical procedures can be performed.”

Using CT scans, personalized organs and blood vessels printed by Miller 3D are converted into a latex material to simulate the patient’s body to reflect the real-life situations that doctors face. Furthermore, 3D printing has aided doctors and better prepared them for an operation that can save someone’s life.

About Miller 3D

Miller 3D Printing is a division of AW Miller, a leader in machine tool technology solutions and the exclusive distributor in Pennsylvania and New York for Mazak Corporation, the largest machine tool builder in the world.

Today, Miller 3D Printing is at the forefront of this revolutionary technology, helping customers internationally to benefit from all the advantages of 3D printing. The company recognized early on that new 3D printing technologies were the perfect complement to the metalworking and manufacturing solutions it has offered for more than 40 years.

Want to learn more about Miller 3D’s capabilities in the medical industry? Contact us