Frequently Asked Questions
ABS Plastic is heated to a paste and then extruded through a nozzle. Once it is out of the nozzle, it cures almost instantly. The machine creates a part from the bottom up, layer by layer (each layer is 0.010-inch thick). The machine builds each layer by following the external pattern of the part, including all surfaces. The machine also creates a diagonal fill pattern for the internal mass. Depending on the geometric shape of the design, some parts may need support material that is removed after the part comes out of the machine.
- Prove a Design FDM parts allow engineers and designers to assemble a model of the design quickly, allowing them to check function and aesthetics. This allows engineers and designers the ability to change and improve the design, early on in the design process.
- Development Time Unlike machined parts or casts that have a long lead time, FDM parts can be made in hours. The order process is also much quicker, since there is no review required to manufacture the part. We simply give you a price based on the volume of your part.
- Low Cost Machined and cast parts normally have tooling costs and minimum quantities. FDM parts don't have either, making it one of the cheapest methods of manufacturing prototype parts.
- Early Design Approval Most of the time, an engineer or designer has to wait until they have a model built to approve a production run. FDM parts make it easy and quick to demonstrate an Idea, Product, or Function to customers, managers, sales, and vendors.
ABS is one of the most common plastics used in all plastic parts. FDM parts are strong enough for machining.They can be milled, drilled, tapped, and sanded. FDM parts may also be finished much like a metal part. They can be plated with nickel, chrome, or copper. They can also be primed and painted. In general FDM parts are 80% as strong as injection molded ABS parts.
Parts may be printed in one of 8 colors: White, Black, Dark Gray, Red, Blue, Nectarine, Fluorescent Yellow, Olive Green, and ABS Natural Plastic(Off-White).
Most designers and engineers use 3D CAD (Computer Aided Drafting) Software to design parts and systems. There are a lot of 3D CAD Software packages like ProEngineer, SolidWorks, Alibre, NX (UniGraphics), Inventor, and SketchUp. If you are a novice, we recommend you start with SketchUp. It is made by Google and they have a free version. Download it here. There are also free video tutorials on using SketchUp. They also have a huge library of parts.
We prefer to receive files in Steriolithography (.stl) but we accept files in these formats: .PLY, .STL, .OFF, .OBJ, .3DS, .COLLADA, .VRML, .DXF, .U3D, .SKT, .IGES, .STEP, .STP. We also accept other file types but a pre-processing charge may apply.
All customers are covered by a non-disclosure agreement. Confidentiality is paramount in our industry and we take it very seriously. You can find a detailed policy here.