Tag Archives: Rapid Prototyping

UK Comes With National Centre For 3D Printing

The UK Government has planned to invest 15 million pounds in setting up a National Centre for 3D printing. This new centre has the purpose of being useful in the field of aerospace, as well as it will be used for automotive and medical purposes.

Image: products manufactured by a 3D printer. Credits: Caleb Cotter, thingiverse.com.

The Government invest the same amount of money into developing aerospace technology at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry. The industry will then add more money to the project in order to take the total to 60 million pounds. They do it to make sure Britain will keep on having a good, innovative economy and so the country will remain being a leader in aerospace technology.

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Rolls-Royce is Planning on Using 3D Printing

Rolls-Royce is planning on using 3D printing techniques in the future to produce components for its jet engines in order to speed up the production and to become able to use more lightweight parts. The company’s head of technology strategy Henner Wapenhans says the company is “a few years away” from using this technique to produce parts that go into service.

According to the Financial Times Mr Wapenhans has said: “3D printing opens up new possibilities, new design space. Through the 3D printing process, you’re not constrained [by] having to get a tool in to create a shape. You can create any shape you like.”

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DIWire Bender: 3D Printer That Bends Wires

While regular 3D printers are well known for their plastic printing techniques, a new type of 3D printer does something completely different. The DIWire Bender bends wires and it transforms 3D computer line drawings into bent wire in order to make anything you want to: clocks, furniture, jewelry or any product that uses wires.

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Solid Concepts Creates First-Ever 3D Printed Metal Gun

The first-ever 3D printed gun was made in May, but it was a plastic version. Now for the first time in history a real metal gun is made using 3D printing techniques. Company Solid Concepts is responsible for manufacturing the first 3D printed metal gun. Kent Firestone, Vice President of Additive Manufacturing at Solid Concepts is very excited about this: ”we’re proving this is possible, the technology is at a place now where we can manufacture a gun with 3D Metal Printing.”

“And we’re doing this legally,” he continues. “In fact, as far as we know, we’re the only 3D Printing Service Provider with a Federal Firearms License (FFL). Now, if a qualifying customer needs a unique gun part in five days, we can deliver.” The gun has already proven to be  successful, because it has already handled 50 rounds of firing without failing even once. It’s a classic design from 1911 and it is composed of 33 17-4 Stainless Steel and Inconel 625 components as well as it’s decked with a Selective Laser Sintered (SLS) carbon-river filled nylon hand grib.

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New Zealander Makes Jet Engine on a 3D Printer

New Zealander Gerry Hamilton has designed a jet engine on a 3D printer. The model is powered by compressed air and it can be seen as a complex demonstration model of a real jet. The fun thing about this jet engine is that it is actually a tutorial, so you can create your own model. This can help you to improve your technical skills.

Credits: Xena, thingiverse.com.

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Rapid prototyping and 3d printing

The terms Rapid Prototyping and 3d printing are often used along each other. And they have similaritys. For example, both rapid prototyping (RP) and 3D printing technologies build models layer by layer from STL data. But there are still some differences.

3D printers usually make smaller parts.

Most 3D printers are limited to making parts that will fit roughly in a cube 8 inches on a side. On the other hand, rapid prototyping machines provide a build chamber at least 10 inches on a side, and some have build chambers approaching 3 x 3 x 2 feet and much larger. Being smaller on the outside means there’s less room to build parts inside. A smaller build envelope also means that it’s not possible to make as many parts at the same time. That’s lower throughput efficiency than an RP machine, but not usually a concern for the applications 3D printers are intended for.

3d Printing costs less

The cost difference per part between 3D printing and rapid prototyping systems can be significant. Including material, machine depreciation, system maintenance and labor, a part built using rapid prototyping technology can cost nearly twice as much compared to 3D printing.


3D printers are cheaper to maintain and feed.

You can expect to spend several hundreds to a few thousand dollars per year to maintain a 3D printer and keep it fed with materials, but it costs several tens of thousands of dollars each year to maintain a rapid prototyping system. Simply replacing a laser in a stereolithography machine can cost $20,000, and filling a big vat with photopolymer can easily cost more than $50,000.

Less Material choices for 3d Printers.

Although the list of materials is growing each month, 3D printers don’t provide the same range of materials as RP machines. Some classes of materials such as ceramics and metals are not available at all. But it’s possible to make adequately functional parts for many applications, and the materials available are certainly appropriate for concept modeling, a frequent use of 3D printers. At the hobbyist level some thermoplastic extrusion machines are actually capable of using a wide range of plastics and material costs are a lot lower.

3d Printers are less complex, and easier to use

Usually 3d printers require much less or even no training at all in contrast to rapid prototyping machines. It’s possible to be making parts pretty much right out of the box with some professional-level technologies. And the simplicity comes at the price of flexibility. Unlike Rapid Prototyping machines, you may not be able to adjust or select many build parameters, or change them on the fly. Also, be forewarned that at the low-cost hobbyist level the equipment is not very “Plug & Play” yet. Some of what you save by buying one of these very low cost machines is likely to be offset by the extra time required to get the equipment running reliably and learning to use it.