3D printing has been around since the 1980s known under various different names. Today the popular term 3D printing encompasses Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM), Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Selective Heat Sintering (SHS), Stereolithography (SLA) and Digital Light Processing (DLP) to name a few.
For many years, 3D printing has been used for prototyping and small batch production runs although its use was limited mainly by its cost. Over the last few years 3D printing has become more mainstream thanks to the RepRap community developing cheaper open source printers. It is now possible to spend anywhere from £250 to over £1,000,000 on a 3D printer.
With the price of 3D printers becoming relatively affordable, there was a lot of hype in the news suggesting that they will appear in everyone’s homes. This hype has now died down and back tracked a bit as more reports of how difficult 3D printers can be to use have come out. This has been coupled with the fact that while you can produce things cheaply on them as long as the print doesn’t fail, you could be stuck watching your printer for 10 hours while it prints something, just in case it tries to destroy itself or burn down your house.
This is where we come in with knowledge and experience, we provide the service of getting the best result for you without the fuss or the hassle.
We currently have FDM printers capable of printing PLA, ABS, Ninjaflex (a rubber-like material) and Nylon along with a powder based printer capable of printing parts in full colour with a sandstone texture to them. We are also building our own design of a DLP printer which will have the ability to print in ultra-high resolution.
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is a common oil based plastic best known for its use in Lego bricks, bike helmets and car bumpers. ABS has a higher melting point than PLA and provides great impact resistance. While not suitable for all printed products, ABS can easily be treated after printing to provide a smooth and glossy finish.
(Poly Lactic Acid) is a fully renewable, vegetable based plastic. As a bioplastic, it has the ability to break down under the correct conditions, usually an industrial composter but in normal conditions will take many years to break down. Printing with PLA is great, it prints in a way that allows better detail than ABS and is the perfect printing material for parts where ABS may struggle. A PLA printed part will be harder but more brittle than ABS. Typical uses for PLA can be for investment casting, medical implants and outside of 3D printing, it is used for tea bags, disposable cups, compost bags…
Full Colour Sandstone prints come from our powder based printer which is capable of printing in the full CMY spectrum of colours. This material is great for seeing how colour variations will effect your design or for models where colour adds another layer to the detail such as figurines.