Frequently Asked Questions
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to get in touch 01452 386608
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!
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…
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.
When is Stereolithography the better option?
Many years ago, Stereolithography was the rapid prototyping solution, accurate, fast, relatively stable unless you can remember the acrylic based resins, and easy to paint.
What are my options if I need to manufacture Custom Electronic Enclosures?
Bringing a new product to market is challenging at the best of times. Generally the more technology involved, the longer it can take. Hence sorting out the ‘box’ to house the device frequently gets pushed down the list to "sort later”!
Is it viable to convert my part material from metal to 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“Plunkett Associates have excellent breadth of experience, work with high quality partners and have a flexibility that we have found enables challenges to be met successfully, cost effectively and in a timely manner.”
Nick Skaer, CEO, Orthox Ltd
Plunkett associates always find a solution. Whatever we need to prototype, they have a great grasp on the technologies available, costs and lead-times so we get the right solution tailored to the project needs. Have always delivered and never let us down.
“I can’t recommend Tim and his team highly enough. We ended up with a design which can be produced and assembled quickly, efficiently and reliably, in volumes that make sense”
Simon Leggett, Director, Olivewood Technology
"Tim's experience, expertise and supplier base have been fundamental to us getting this project off the ground."
Sam Pearce, Jelly Products Ltd
“We were really surprised at how quickly they turned round such a high quality prototype and the parts certainly proved their worth. They were of high enough quality to provide a fantastic visual representation and to undergo rigorous testing."
Stuart Wilson, Design Director, TRT Lighting
“Accuracy, finish and delivery all first class.”
Andrew Peters, JMDA Ltd
“We use Plunkett Associates because we want someone we can trust, that knows what they’re talking about, has all the contacts, will provide reliable advice and feedback and will get the right result for us.”
Jim Copestick. Design Manager, Thorlux Lighting
“We always know exactly what we’re getting and we know we won’t be let down on quality, price or lead times.”
Mark Williams, Research and Development Director, Johnson Safety Products
“Plunkett Associates truly offer a complete turnkey solution with Speed, Effectiveness and Precision.”
David Harden, Director, Enica Ltd
“Kirintec were thrilled with Plunketts. They made a complex process simple and we were just amazed at the lead times achieved. Plus, every single deadline was met without any drama.”
Penny While, Marketing Director, Kirintec
“Thanks to Plunkett Associates flexible, bespoke and cost effective service I was able to produce the objects that I had originally had in mind.”
Simon Ryder, Artist
To create such a consistent quality finish in chrome was an amazing achievement and the prototypes really gave our stand the wow factor.
James Clark, Group Commercial Director, The Airdri Group
Interestingly, people who look at it in its own right with little knowledge of what it does, just like it! It’s tactile and it looks good…
Tim Collings, Operations Director, Troika Systems Ltd
"With their simple to understand language, willingness to go the extra mile and approachability, Plunkett Associates were a great partner for our company. We couldn’t be happier with the results of our project. (A working prototype that they got right first time, by the way). Thank you!"
Carolina Ballon-Forrester, Director, Kittyrama Ltd
Plunkett Associates worked on the design and production of titanium frames for an artificial heart valve where precision and consistency was paramount.
Communications were efficient and productive with concepts readily incorporated into the final design, and suggestions for improvements all highly appropriate.
The quality of the end product was ideal and I have no doubt that I will use the advice and expertise of Plunkett Associates again.
David Wheatley, Wheatley Research Ltd
“Thanks for the present that arrived this morning, as promised. Parts look first class, as always.”
Jon Todd, Design Manager, PHS Group
“Plunkett Associates have a fantastic supply chain, work with all sorts of production processes and will always do their utmost to solve a problem.”
“ Plunketts developed a solution that met our precision requirements at a cost significantly lower than alternative manufacturing approaches we had investigated”
Nick Skaer, CEO, Orthox Ltd
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Best service that I have experienced in ages. I consider Plunkett Associates to be an integral part of my business plan moving forward.”
Jet Cooper, Sculptor