Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The Ultimate 3D Printing Match Up: Laser Sintering vs. Fused Deposition Modeling

Laser Sintering (LS) and Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) are like the Peyton Manning and Cam Newton of 3D printing—Two of the best quarterbacks in the league, one about ten years older than the other (LS was commercialized in around 1980 and FDM around 1990), and currently both at the top of their game. LS and FDM are often compared because they both deliver similar materials and engineering-grade thermoplastics which give them the ability to serve functional and production manufacturing applications. Even though LS and FDM are equally capable of producing strong, durable parts, their divergent delivery mechanisms make certain geometries and applications better suited for one or the other. Learning the advantages and differences between technologies will help lead you to the best process for your project. Here we compare each technology when it comes to engineering challenges, applications and geometries:

Internal Features
You’ll see positive results on internal cavities with both FDM and LS when the features are accessible to a finisher removing supports. FDM offers break-away support which is manually removed by hand and soluble support which dissolves in a water-based solution (ideal for internal cavities). LS parts use the unsintered powder as support during the process, which can be easily brushed away post-build. For difficult to access internal features, you’ll find more success using LS regardless of material choice because excess powder can be easily brushed or blown away from cavities. Tough-to-reach internal features can be more difficult with FDM, especially with non-soluble support materials that need to be manually removed.
Large Parts
One of the largest build platforms in the industry is the Fortus 900mc (FDM technology) which measures 36”x24”x36”. The largest LS platform is the EOS P700 series at 24”x14”x20”, but building large parts can be problematic, depending on the geometry. FDM manufactures flat areas with ease while flat parts built with LS would likely warp if the walls are too thin. LS is often better suited for curved large parts with rounded features. However LS can successfully produce a large flat part if ribbing is included to reinforce the area.

Temperature Requirements
Both technologies offer materials specifically formulated for withstanding high temperatures, but FDM’s ULTEM materials hold the title for highest heat deflection temperature with ULTEM 9085 at HDT 153° C @ and ULTEM 1010 at HDT 213° C. ULTEM is also UL94 V-0 rated and passes the FAR. 25.853 60-second vertical burn test. However LS’s high-temp materials aren’t far off with Nylon 12 PA at HDT 86° C

Mechanical Performance
Laser Sintering has a clear advantage in isotropic mechanical properties with near consistency in X, Y, and Z. LS is also better positioned in terms of flexibility with Flex TPE material (8 MPa Tensile Modulus and 110% Elongation at Break) and a family of Nylons with better elongation properties than any other FDM materials. And when it comes to impact strength, both technologies are far above the other plastics processes in the field, but LS has select materials with slightly higher impact strength than most FDM materials (LS Nylon 12 PA is 4.12ft-lb/in and FDM PC-ABS is 3.7 ft-lb/in).

The Objective3D Direct Manufacturing Solution for you
Objective3D Direct Manufacturing has the expertise and technology range to deliver upon any of your additive manufacturing projects. However, if your project requires larger quantities of small parts – fast, Laser Sintering is the best technological solution for you. Per-part pricing is reduced as quantities increase, but there are more advantages to using Laser Sintering for small prototypes than price alone. To find out more read Delivering High Quantities of Prototypes Fast

Talk to us and find out how we can help you determine the best possible material for your project.

Ready to place an order? Get a RapidQuote or call 03-9785 2333 (AUS) 09-801 0380 (NZ)

Objective3D Direct Manufacturing is certified ISO 9001:2008 compliant and is powered by Stratasys Direct Manufacturing with 16 commercial grade machines providing the widest range of 3D printing technologies and materials to enable a broad range of specialist solutions. With more than 1500 orders received and over 100,000 parts produced annually, Objective3D Direct Manufacturing is helping companies in diverse industries create extraordinary new products at every phase of the production process. For more details visit

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Five 3D Printing Tips to Save You Time

3D printing is known to be a fast alternative to most traditional manufacturing processes, and you can harness the possibilities of this groundbreaking industry by taking some easy steps. Get to market quickly with these five tips to save you time when ordering 3D printed parts.

1. Export Your CAD file as a STL
In order for a 3D printer to build a part, the CAD file has to be exported into a STL file. A STL file is made up of triangles forming the surface of the part, causing faceting of the 3D model. Depending on the parameters set up, the faceting of the 3D model will differ. Common parameters that affect faceting of STL files include chord height, deviation, angle tolerance and poly count. It’s imperative to prepare your files for the export with this in mind to ensure quality expectations and design intentions are maintained from CAD to final part production.

There are a number of ways to optimize and prepare your CAD data to guarantee ­files are ready for processing and production. There are adjustments you can make to complex geometry data, such as wall thicknesses, or even small changes to ­file size and features that will help create a pristine STL fi­le and accelerate processing.

You can learn more about the details of how to prepare STL files in our whitepaper and tutorial.

2. Look at Design Guidelines
A common misconception about 3D printing is that the process is similar or the same across different machines and technologies. The reality is that 3D printing involves a variety of technologies with unique design considerations. Objective3D Direct Manufacturing offers a suite of 3D printing services including PolyJet, Laser Sintering (LS), Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) and Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS).

If you’re looking to utilize a specific technology, you can speed up your production process significantly by considering the limitations or unique requirements of that technology and how to adapt your file or design accordingly.

For example, most 3D printing processes require the design of supports for any overhangs in a 3D model, but Laser Sintering does not because of the nature of its build style. Other factors that may change from technology to technology include resolution, build orientation, wall thickness and part size.

Objective3D Direct Manufacturing has detailed design guidelines and other helpful information regarding design considerations:

3. Know Your Post-Processing Options
When you think about your piece, what do you envision? Does the piece have a smooth surface? Will the size of your part require multiple builds and assembly? If the component is a prototype, does it need cosmetic finishing or can it retain its natural finish? Will the layer lines of the 3D printing process affect the function of your final part?

Our expert finishing department can produce beautiful cosmetic and functional finishes with a variety of options. Some functional finishes include media blasting, tumbling, bonding, sealing and sanding; some cosmetic finishes include painting, clear coating, dying, vapor polishing, electroplating and texturising.

Oftentimes desired cosmetics can be accomplished more quickly and cheaply by choosing an alternative than the obvious. For example, if you need a part to be blue, you could have the part dyed instead of painted to save on time and money.

By understanding the options available and the time involved in fulfilling the desired finishing, you can significantly speed up the post-build process and get your product to market faster.

Learn more about available finishing options here.

4. Consider Your Material Needs
It’s typically a swift decision when choosing the category of material you’re considering for your product (plastic or metal, opaque or transparent, flexible or rigid), but many can be bogged down by the complexity of considerations when choosing specific materials based on benefits and the specific data related to it. We’ve broken down all of our materials in easy to understand tables on our website with detailed data sheets for each offered material.

For example, you may be considering a production-grade thermoplastic, but need the material to withstand high-temperatures with the ability to be sterilized for medical applications. You start with the technology on the material’s page, and then choose which 3D printing process you are utilizing. That page organizes each available material with a description and the relevant data. Each material’s detailed datasheet is also linked under each offering.

If you’re not sure which technology would be best for your application, you can start in RapidQuote with our Material Wizard. By clicking the Material Wizard tab on the right side of the screen, you’ll be able to filter materials based on a variety of key characteristics, including mechanical or thermal requirements. By clicking the three processes at the top of the selections, you’ll see which materials are available with each technology. Then, you can click through results to see detailed information about each material.

5. Talk to an Expert
The best way to speed up the 3D printing process, especially if you have no experience with the technology, is to speak with the engineers at Objective3D Direct Manufacturing. With more than 12 years in the industry, we are well equipped and knowledgeable about the 3D printing solutions that can help bring your envisioned product to life.

You can speak with our highly-qualified Project Engineers as you uncover the right technology for your product, or do some research on your own by visiting our website. General and nuanced information about the world of 3D printing can be found in our resources and case studies section of our website.

If you’re interested in learning about how 3D printing can be better incorporated into your business, our Professional Services offer in-person evaluations and recommendations. Professional Services looks at your entire operation and pinpoints opportunities to integrate 3D printing and provides all of the resources necessary to do so. Starting with expert onsite services, Professional Services prepares a comprehensive operations analysis after observing current operations and speaking with individuals from c-suite executives to manufacturing floor workers.

Don’t let the complexity of this revolutionary industry slow down your project goals. By following these five simple tips, you’ll be well on your way to rapid, quality 3D printed parts.

If you would like to build a 3D Part and need a quote, please contact us at 03-0785 2333 (AUS) or 09 801 0380 (NZ) or email us at Alternatively, you may upload your files and get a quote on our online system here.

About Objective3D Direct Manufacturing
Objective3D Direct Manufacturing is certified ISO 9001:2008 compliant and is powered by Stratasys Direct Manufacturing with 16 commercial grade machines providing the widest range of 3D printing technologies and materials to enable a broad range of specialist solutions. With more than 1500 orders received and over 100,000 parts produced annually, Objective3D Direct Manufacturing is helping companies in diverse industries create extraordinary new products at every phase of the production process.