New Heights for 3D Printing

by Todd McDonald on April 11, 2014

Amazon’s recent testing of their delivery by drone concept … Facebook’s work to connect the world using drones, satellites and lasers … Domino’s publicity stunt to demonstrate how pizzas might be delivered in the future … Matternet’s plans for delivery of medical supplies to inaccessible developing areas via drones. Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s), have certainly been a hot topic in the news lately.

However, while reading these stories, one gets the sense that access to such fascinating technology is simply not available to the average Joe. Until now, perhaps.

That’s because just a few days ago researchers in UK announced that they successfully created and tested a low-cost UAV – made entirely using a 3D printer. According to a recent Daily Mail article by Victoria Woollaston, “Engineers at University of Sheffield developed the prototype 1.5m-wide unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) using a cheap, common technique that builds objects using layers of plastic….It was built using a technique called fused deposition modeling (FDM), and is made of a polymer called thermoplastic.”

“Low production costs might lead to the printing of 3D unmanned aircraft that could be disposable and sent on one-way flights for delivery, search or reconnaissance purposes,” said the engineers.

At TEQ, we also see tremendous value in producing low-cost objects via 3D printing, including:

  1. Helping our customers bring their ideas to life faster
  2. Solving design challenges early in the product development process
  3. Accurately verifying form, fit and function of designs
  4. Streamlining product development
  5. Reducing time to market and saving money

Just to name a few.

That’s exactly why we purchased a 3D printer system that utilizes the fused disposition modeling (FDM) process for rapid prototype production. With this system we can go from a concept on the computer screen to a physical representation of a part in just a few hours (vs. a few days) – giving us the flexibility to create one-off representations of trays for customer review and product fit testing, as well as create machine-ready prototype molds that we can make a small number of parts from.

What about you? With such a wide variety in application, how is your industry or business taking advantage of rapid prototyping?

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