Frequently Asked Questions
My prototype must be in the production intent material (ABS, PC, PA, PP etc). What are my options?
The short answer is you have to make a mould tool. However this needs qualifying, as today processes such as SLS use nylon (PA) as their standard material. FDM works with ABS, ABS/PC, PC, Ultem and PPS. These techniques, whilst getting much closer to the production material, do not allow for a particular grade to be chosen and are still subject to some optimisation for the process.
Then there is the frequently forgotten CNC machining option. If the part is machinable, then most generic plastics can be sourced in slab form and machined. Either of these options will not produce the mechanical properties of a moulded part, but in some instances that may not be a requirement.
So, if it is a material requirement based on chemical compatibility, then some RP/CNC processes may provide alternatives. If the requirement is driven by environmental or mechanical requirements, then we are usually back to a mould tool.
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is the second most commonly used process after Stereolithography (SLA). SLS parts can be produced with high functionality in very short lead times.
Produces accurate 3D models with a range of material choices. High Res SLA and Micro SLA for smaller parts.
The benefits of CNC parts include substantial flexibility in material choice, high accuracy and repeatability.
Produces production intent material properties. Injection Moulding is used for development as well as production parts.
Read more expert articles in our FAQ section where we discuss topics on materials, methods and products.
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