Frequently Asked Questions

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Plastic

What is the difference between SLA and SLS?

When choosing a 3D printing or additive manufacturing process there is a lot to consider – here we revisit SLA and SLS. Tim wasn’t wrong in his last article on SLA vs SLS when he said it’s all about trade offs!

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Should I use SLA or SLS for my prototype?

You need a prototype, and are thinking Additive manufacturing, but just not sure whether to go Stereolithography (SLA) or Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)?

Our simple to follow, light hearted step by step guide should help give you the basics…

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How do I achieve tougher or more flexible SLS parts?

Whilst the standard SLS materials (Nylon or Glass Filled Nylon) are white and provide durable, rigid and stable parts, sometimes you might need something a little bit tougher or a little bit more flexible – or even in black. The good news is Ex Black and Flex offer impact resistant and flexible options and Plunkett Associates can deliver both!

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Should I use SLS or SLA for a functional prototype?

The immediate reaction to a question of this sort is to say Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) - after all, a large part of the growth in laser sintering applications is due to the functionality offered by nylon. However, if we look at the material properties of Duraform (standard nylon for laser sintering) in comparison to Stereolithography (SLA) resins (in this case Xtreme), we can see how far SLA resins have developed. 

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With 3D Printing readily available, why should I consider CNC machining?

With all the hype around 3D printing, the initial impression is that it is a panacea for everything! As usual, life is not that straightforward. 3D Printing or Additive Manufacture can achieve some great results, especially if time is very limited. However, to assume that other technologies are now redundant is a leap too far.

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Thinking about prototyping?

The word ‘prototype’ is confusing! We used to think this would mean only 1 or 2 parts and could only be achieved economically through Additive Manufacturing processes. Today, however, that is not the case. 

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I want my prototype in ABS, like the production part. What can you do?

An ABS prototype can be produced by injection moulding, CNC machining or FDM (additively). Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, the aim is a functional, desirable and cost effective part.

When designing a plastic part, material choice is critical. If you are looking for a cost effective, strong material that produces a good surface finish then ABS may be the one for you.

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How do I prototype an extrusion?

Extrusion is a process that is commonly used in production, where lengths of a constant cross section are required. It can be a highly economical method of manufacture even when some post machining is required to add fixing points, threads or access panels.

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Custom Electronic Enclosures - what are my options?

Bringing a new product to market is challenging at the best of times. Generally the more technology involved, the more disciplines, the longer it can take. Hence sorting out the ‘box’ to house the device frequently gets pushed down the list as a “we’ll sort that out later” item!

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How can I replace metal with plastic?

When assessing plastic as a substitute for metal there are many factors to take into consideration. Not all are strictly design based, other factors can be desirability, finishing options, production cost, or sustainability to name a few.

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What are my options for prototyping in glass reinforced nylon?

There are a number of options when it comes to increasing the stiffness of polymer parts. The most common method is to use glass fillers. 

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I want my part moulded in PVC. Can you do this?

PVC  (Polyvinyl Chloride) is often overlooked as a material however, according to Wikipedia, is the world's third-most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer. Here at Plunkett Associates, we felt it was time to further our capabilities, strengthen our supplier base, and gain access to this incredible material. 

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How can I achieve successful CNC machined parts?

CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machining is simply, the use of computers to control machine tools. There are many benefits of using this method to manufacture or prototype parts:

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I need electrically conductive plastic, is this possible?

Whilst most plastics are non- conductive, i.e. exhibit surface resistivity in the range 1012 ohms upwards, it is possible to create electrically statically dissipative (ESD) materials (surface resistivity in the range 106 to 1012 ohms) and electrically conductive materials in the range 10 to 106 ohms.

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The Volume Curve - what if quantities of parts are uncertain?

If you are looking for production plastic parts, then Plunkett Associates has already demonstrated how injection moulding is a very cost effective solution for quantities down to and even below 100. However, if your quantities are uncertain or the design not frozen, then CNC machining (computer numerical control) could offer a very economic alternative and comes with the added advantage that quality of finish and accuracy are far superior to alternative prototyping options.

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How can prototyping help make my product a success?

There are several different approaches to prototyping and the decision of which one may be right for you will depend on the expectations or requirements from the prototype. 

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How easy is it to work with suppliers in the Far East?

People often say to us that they will get their parts made in the Far East – after all everyone says it's so much cheaper – and how difficult can it be?

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