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Frances Scharnhorst
By Frances Scharnhorst
Friday, June 14, 2013 - 12:22

Due to the high cost of molds, creating a prototype for your plastic parts can be expensive. To curb this cost, but still offer quick-turn prototypes, for the last year Elite Plastics has been utilizing a local 3D printing company as a prototype tool. This allows customers to test fit, form, and function without the high out-of-pocket cost associated with mold production. We are able to print parts with a relatively quick turn-over using either a plastic or a composite material.

The composite printing option is the less expensive of the two options. The nature of the material means that the part can be brittle, which makes it not a good part to test function with. The composite material is made using a powder and a binder, similar in concept to concrete. A resulting part would be a replica of the CAD file in both fit and form. Composite parts can also be printed to have colors on the top layers. This means that the part can be printed with a demonstration of secondary decorations (such as screen printing and pad printing) for location and color check.

The plastic printing option allows for the choice of 7 different materials (including PC, ABS, Ultem, and PPS). This means that the material can be chosen to incorporate function into the prototype phase. These parts can be used in an assembly and tested for anticipated physical and chemical applications. The different plastics can also be ordered in a variety of colors for aesthetics or to help identify the ways different parts connect in the assembly process.

Depending on the part and industry, prototyping is an important aspect of the manufacturing processes. Utilizing a 3D printer, allows EP to offer high quality and affordable prototypes to all of its customers.

Model developed via 3D Priinting from http://3dprintinginaec.blogspot.com/