The other day I saw a news blip about a man who used 3D printing to create adapters to interface different toy construction sets together. For those of you not familiar with the story, the man wanted to build a model car for his son. He had decided he wanted to use a set of tinker toys for the frame of the car and K’Nex for the wheels. Unfortunately the pieces from these two manufacturers do not play well together. His solution was to design a set of digital files that would enable a person to use a 3-D printer to make custom adapter pieces. These pieces would interface together Legos, K’Nex, Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs and other popular construction sets into one creative bundle.
While reading up on this I began wondering how our machines here at GROWit would be able to improve on quality and accuracy of these designs. If we were printing them in the same material as he was (which was FDM), the orientation of the part has a large part to play in the overall quality of the final printed product. For example, a hole or cylinder that is printed vertically will come out much better and more accurately than one that is printed horizontally due to the Vector based nature of how the machines function. In contrast, if you take that same part and print it with our Polyjet technology the hole/cylinder will be more accurate printed horizontally! This is because the raster based technology on Polyjet machines benefit more from the accuracy on the Z axis rather than on the X and Y axis.
Understanding proper orientation is crucial when using 3D printers to create parts. Many people know the differences between the material properties of the different machines but few know the structural and aesthetic advantages of one technology over another (save for layer thickness).
From my experience operating these machines, I have learned that small changes in orientation and build process of a part can make a large difference in visual quality as well as structural integrity. This enables us to orient parts to achieve the highest level of detail possible.
Don’t forget to consider orientation when you are printing your next parts!
See the original post: IMPROVING DESIGN