Expert Design Consultation for 3D Printing & Additive Manufacturing
At 3D Printed Parts, we’re proud to offer a variety of design services, including:
- CAD design consultations
- 3D printing materials consultations
- Design optimization
- Conceptual design & reverse engineering
CAD Design Consultations
Do You Review CAD Files?
Yes, we review CAD files to make sure they’re optimized for our process. This is a collaborative endeavor between our customers and our team. We can identify regions of the part that could be improved for and by our process. That way, we can help you reduce cost, eliminate unnecessary material, reduce machine time, and improve the function and strength of your part.
What Are Common Changes You Make or Suggest in CAD Files?
Design consulting can really help improve nimbleness or agility as businesses launch new products. With rapid design change abilities, you can quickly move through numerous iterations. We can also provide customization and personalization for clients and customers this way. This can change supply chains or inventory management, allowing for digital inventory or production on demand. Let’s take a look at some of the changes we most commonly suggest.
Typically, our changes include wall thickness. We recommend hollowing out or using lattice where available, depending on the printing technique and material. There are wall thickness to height ratios that we adhere to for different processes. Through our consulting, we seek to limit the number of secondary processes we have to pursue in order to finish a part.
Production Chain Optimization
Printing is often the first step in the additive production chain. Parts may need finishing, turning, machining, wiring, etc., before they are completed. We design to optimize for all of those process chain steps. Sometimes, we have to add material to a part if it requires a high load-bearing support or tolerance.
We can suggest design changes based on saving weight. Using lattices, honeycomb microstructures, or structural mesh can drastically improve strength and decrease weight. We consider the load characteristics of the part and can use artificial intelligence (AI) to determine a geometry that’s most suitable to meet those needs.
Enhanced Surface Characteristics
We may suggest lightweight titanium or aluminum where they hadn’t been considered before due to the cost or difficulty of casting certain geometries. We engineer different surface textures and features to enhance surface characteristics for heat transfer, traction, or aerodynamic purposes. For example, the more surface area a part has, the more heat transfer there is.
We also design surface textures for better fixation or attachment, especially for the medical industry. For instance, we can add specific surface textures to orthopedic implants using geometries that match the pattern of cellular growth. This allows an implant to be more strongly secured to the bone than screws or adhesives alone.
3D Printing Materials Consultations
Do You Make Suggestions Based on Materials? Which Printing Technology Should Be Used Based on Materials?
These are two sides of the same coin. We try to begin our design process with the end product in mind. If the application requires a specific material, we have to start from there.
Often, engineers will say that a part has to be made of an engineered thermoplastic because they’re familiar with those materials. But by considering first principles, we often find the need is not the material itself, but instead the mechanical properties required to achieve the function.
At 3D Printed Parts, we will check if the desired material is available, but if not, our team will be able to recommend other 3D printable materials with better or similar mechanical properties. We can complete a cost analysis to find the least expensive material that is still appropriate for the application.
What Are Common Misconceptions About 3D Printing Materials?
When it comes to misconceptions, we’ve heard them all: 3D printed materials aren’t strong enough, or aren’t food safe, or aren’t safe for exposure to ultraviolet light. Maybe that was true 10 years ago, but now, we have so many great materials to choose from that can meet almost any need.
Another common misunderstanding is the idea that people can simply give us a sketch or a picture and tell us to print it. In reality, consulting for 3D printing is a much more collaborative process. We have to have a CAD file as the lynchpin to the whole process. A design can’t become tangible until there is a CAD file to translate it into a physical object.
Our design optimization services are intended for parts or products that will be used for extended production through additive manufacturing.
What Does Design Optimization for 3D Printing Involve?
- Lightweighting: By using different techniques like honeycomb infills or computed lattice structures, we can reduce the weight of a component. This often has a side benefit of reducing machine time as well as cost.
- Conformal cooling: As the name suggests, this involves producing coolant channels throughout the interior of a part that conform to exterior facing surfaces. Widely used in injection molding to regulate mold temperature, our conformal cooling practices often reduce injection mold cycle times while improving overall part quality.
- Part consolidation: Why create multiple components when we can build them as one piece? Our part consolidation efforts can eliminate significant assembly or welding costs with just a couple hours of engineering time.
Which Specific Benefits of 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing Do You Suggest Designers Incorporate into Their Designs?
We often suggest inclusion of lightweighting, honeycomb structures, and design changes to allow for fitting more parts into designs. With different technologies, we can speed up the process on interiors of parts. We do everything we can to optimize the part to reduce machine and labor costs while also improving quality.
Conceptual Design & Reverse Engineering
We offer 3D design and additive manufacturing design consultancy services. Most frequently, we provide reverse engineering of older products and industrial service parts. Often, this is for specialty equipment, wear items, and older items that are difficult to source.
Especially during the pandemic, supply chains have had a crunch and haven’t always been able to meet demand. Some industries and shipping options shut down internationally for a while. During this supply chain disruption, 3D Printed Parts was able to step up and meet that need.
How Reverse Engineering Works
Our reverse engineering services are generally geared toward reproducing discontinued industrial service parts, although this is also used for emergency substitution of backlogged maintenance, repair, and operation (MRO) items.
For legacy production parts, we usually start with a two-dimensional drawing and re-engineer it into a 3D format. In cases in which a drawing isn’t available, we can work from a physical part using calipers or, in some instances, laser or blue-light scanners.
Contact Us for a Design Consultation Today
3D printing and additive manufacturing design is an industrial process, so we are generally working with manufacturers and businesses—in other words, companies that have resources to dedicate to design and secondary processes. We sometimes get requests from consumers for parts you could reasonably find online or at the hardware store. This service is offered as a business solution for engineers, designers, plant managers, procurement professionals and product managers in their quest for functional prototypes, tooling, and low volume/high value production parts and items.
If you want to know if 3D Printed Parts can help manufacture your product, fill out the form on this page, and we will assign your project to the best consultant for you. We can educate you on the process and requirement, and we’ll set up a meeting to talk through different aspects of your product and different possibilities for printing, as well as design intent. You can even send us your part, and we can discuss it over video to clarify your needs and what solutions we have.