Sept. 13, 2019
Investment or lost-wax casting is a 6,000 year old process that ushered in the Bronze Age of mankind’s history. This process is still in use today in the fabrication of metal components that are often difficult to make from other processes. With the introduction of desktop 3D printing, the traditional process of lost-wax casting has been streamlined, resulting in a savings of cost and time for the customer.
One company that has benefitted from 3D printing is Sylatech. Sylatech is a design and manufacturing business that offers services in CNC machining, radio frequency and microwave manufacturing and investment casting of metal components for customers in the aerospace, space, defense, medical, automotive and construction industries. Gordon Gunn, the Director of Marketing, states that 3D printing has fundamentally transformed Sylatech’s business. Desktop 3D printing has sped up the rapid prototyping process and now enables the company to deliver product within days in lieu of weeks. Now adjustments to designs and configurations can be accomplished at a minimal cost before a customer needs to make a large capital investment for production.
Historically, tooling was necessary at the outset in order to make the first prototype. This required an upfront cost of £2,500 - £4,000 and a delivery time frame of up to five weeks. If modifications to the original tool design were required, then each change added an additional £500. With the introduction of 3D printing, the prototype can be finalized in days. Typically, 30% of the initial designs need alterations after the first prototype. With 3D printing, the cost of design changes run less than £10 per part. This reduces the risk in changes and allows for design / model experimentation by both the designer and customer before investing in tooling for larger volume productions.
With 3D printers, Sylatech can create a 3D printed model of the customer's design in a matter of days. The additional cost for design modifications are minimal due to material and printer time versus the cost of a metal tool. Now with the Ultimaker 3, the dual hot end capability and the ability to print PVA supports provides complete design freedom. This allows for an increase in part complexity without having to provide multiple tools for casting. It is all about saving time and money and desktop 3D printing maximizes these benefits. Just imagine what 3D printing can do for your business.
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