Being aware of the high potential of the 3D printing technology, we can often see the examples of mold casts made on 3D printers. It shouldn’t be surprising at all as it is one of the easiest way of creating intricate mold shapes fast and cost-efficiently. True, but this time one of our users Luca Toson surprised us with his idea of making the prototype of a whole injection molding machine instead of a single cast.
Evolution of the Idea
In one of our previous articles we provided you with some essential information about the molding technology and how it can complement the 3D printing technology for the sake of achieving optimum results. We hope you found it useful as this particular way of plastics processing is one of the most popular technique that allows to produce a wide range of goods, starting from small household objects to automotive interior parts. The very process is in fact quite simple: the plastic grinded or in a form of a fine powder is put into the feeder of the machine where it is heated till it melts and then pressed forward and injected to the empty mold. The mold cavity is kept by the special clasps, which are released after the material gets hard and cools down. The solid plastic objects are then taken out of the pattern and ready to use, or post-processing techniques are applied to the object at this stage.
The One that Breaks the Mold
Being aware of the potential of the 3D printing technology, one of our users Luca Toson decided to create something out of regular, that will show that thanks to additive manufacturing it is possible to create highly complex models that can reflect the existing industrial machines. The whole idea was in fact initiated by Luca’s coworker who did some research on the subject and inspired the modeler to create the prototype of the injection molding machine. What’s interesting the 3D printing process was a great learning experience for Luca as by 3D printing the machine parts he could do the evaluation and make updates to his project.
The whole process started with designing a model in the CAD program, the modeling technique preferred by Luca is NURBS as it allows creating freeforms, especially the curved surfaces by using the control points on a mesh. As the designer of the machine claims, the project was really involving as finally the author ended up with 300 parts that were 3D printed on Zortrax M200 and assembled by steel pins or screws. The dimensions of the model are 370mm x 166mm x 155mm and its scale is 1:36. The elements were printed in 25 batches as the Zortrax M200 is capable of 3D printing many objects at the same time. As it is visible in the pictures, the aluminum pipes were added on the sides of the model for the sake of making a closer reflection of a real industrial tool. Although the model is a static one, some of its elements are moving and can be handled manually.
When it comes to the printing materials used by for the project these included Z-ULTRAT, Z-ABS and Z-GLASS for the tray. The size of most of the elements was really small so the designer decided to ask more experienced users like Ronny Raimondi for some tips on modeling and 3D printing. However, those of you who are interested in improving their knowledge on 3D printing intricate shapes or avoiding some common mistakes, they an always visit Zortrax Support Center.
Back on Track with Zortrax
Asked about the choice of Zortrax M200 3D printer, Luca enumerates the key features like reliability, robustness and ease of use that made him make the final decision. As a person who works in the field of plastics, he is fully aware of the number of factors, for example temperature and materials that can determine the final look of the models. Having to choose the most suitable device, he came across many offers and spent his time on testing them. Apparently the factors like cost-efficiency, printing materials resistance and high printing quality facilitated his choice.
The Technology of Tomorrow
After gaining some experience with the 3D printing, Luca Toson shared his opinion on the future of this innovative technology. The modeler especially stresses the ability of creating unique models, the ones that simply come to the designer’s mind and are suitable for 3D printing. Among the advantages of additive manufacturing enumerated by Luca are also time and cost reductions that make the technology more affordable and at the same time accessible to the bigger group of people. The individuals are now given the tool that helps them to express their ideas more fully, without the limitations imposed by the financial issues. Yet another vital thing that makes the technology more and more popular is its universality as various industries can adjust the technology to their business profile and start to benefit from it. Not to mention the projects of life saving devices, prostheses or other models developed in the field of medicine that make the technology even more amazing.