Frequently Asked Questions
The main driver for price is weight. Weight is based on the amount of material that the part has and as a result the amount of time the machine will take to turn the powder into solid.
The following is taken into consideration as well:
- Part set up
- Part risk/complexity
- Support required
So, there are a few variants and parts need to be assessed on a piece-by-piece basis which means we need to see a file of the part first.
We aim to fill a plate with a mixture of client parts and base our pricing on achieving this. The only time we charge more for 3D printing a part is when it is needed in a shorter timeframe. The extra charge is often for weekend staff time. Our normal lead time is 3 weeks.
Click here to download our CAD and Mesh formats table. However we prefer .step files.
If you're not sure about your file types or the right software, please don't hesitate to get in touch - email@example.com
Stainless (316 and 15-5) it is 245 x 245 x 300mm
Inconel it is 245 x 245 x 300mm
Titanium it is 245 x 245 x 300mm
We can sometimes print slightly taller for some machines.
(All sizes are X x Y x Z)
Generally yes, although success in SLM depends a lot on the shape of the part. Parts that have intricate details which are difficult to machine or contain areas of curves and complex surfaces, lend themselves well to SLM manufacturing.
Metal 3D manufacturing enables design freedom. This allows designers and engineers to follow where their imagination takes them. The printing process simply follows this design freedom, easily and cost-effectively producing complex, high spec pieces that traditional manufacturing processes could simply not produce.
Quality control is an important part of the design and manufacturing process, with finished pieces needing to be consistently reliable. We run tensile bars and test every build. This enables us to ensure the build process meets specification but also tracks general production processes over a long period of time.
Technical – FAQs
They are mostly similar although Titanium will tend to buckle with thin walls over distance (the distance depends on thickness and shape). The other materials will also do this but to a lesser extent. This is related to the thermal conductivity – Titanium is a poor thermal conductor so suffers most from this. The wall thickness depends on the shape and the part. It is possible to do 0.18mm wall thickness however this is not ideal, 0.3 – 0.5mm is better however these may still buckle depending on shape. The issue is often greatly reduced (fixed) via a lattice structure or a stiffening beam (not big and may be removable).
Talk to us about hollow parts and lattice infills and we will advise what is the best option for your part. We encourage complex shapes, so we do suggest if keeping a part solid, then only keep the material that is needed for the performance and strength of the part. Lattice infill is a highly effective method to remove a lot of weight from a part (and often cost if left solid) without the designer needing to create complex and time-consuming pocketing or cavities.
The lattice can be made in many structures. Most companies will either say a light, medium or heavy mesh, although this is not fully accurate. You could specify the diameter of the strut and we could find the closest structure. Generally we can scale the lattice up or down. The length of the struts is adjustable to create different densities within the same lattice node structure. There could be some variations, so we can work with you on that to get the best outcome.
Remember there will also need to be a couple of small holes in the part to get the powder out so we need to know where we can put these also. Ideally 1 -2mm diameter is best.
The customer pays for the material used, so while the lattice is not free, it will not add any disproportionate cost to the print, and often can result in a cheaper print due to global weight savings. A part with lattice is certainly cheaper than a solid part but more than a completely hollow part.
We have several options available as our preferred standard lattices. Our lattice has balanced properties in all directions. We can include customer generated lattice structures.
First, we will seek some guidance from our customer on what they think is a good starting point. We can create the internal cavity and lattice; however, it is the client’s responsibility to ensure the part meets structural needs. We can suggest a minimum wall thickness and minimum lattice member size, but the client must approve these. We can send an STL file of the part back to customers for their own FEA review if required.
Talk to us about the best way to achieve this.
Generally a couple of 1 – 2mm holes is perfect but smaller holes can also work.
The most common cause is solid thickness; this is the main issue, however, sudden changes in thickness or major feature changes can also have an effect. The sudden changes in thickness and feature change tends to be less of a major problem and any will generally result in a cosmetic rather than structural issue. The solid thickness is the main cause of problem especially where it is over a long distance on the x,y plain (the Z is not an issue).
Yes, we take care of this.
No, we will orientate the part for the best printing result. If you have any crucial surfaces or features please let us know.
Yes, we can print a thread, However, in most cases we need to chase the thread with a tap to clean the surface for the best results. We prefer customers to only put a tapping drill hole in their part to let us add the thread feature. This incurs a small extra fee for our additional time, so it is optional if the customer prefers to finish the part themselves.
Accuracy is +/- 50 microns, however, there are some variations to this, mostly to do with the shape of the part. Rapid changes to the part shape can have an effect on accuracy and also the part will have some support material on it. This is a structure made at the same time as the part to support certain angles etc. Where this support has been attached, there will be a difference in accuracy.