We offer a variety 3D printing service in a variety of plastics that have all been standardised and our printer has been calibrated to ensure highly repeatable part production every single time. Our technical expertise and process know-how has been gained from many years in the industry.
What are 3D printers & how do they work?
3D printers are a relatively new generation of machine and, with the right knowledge & expertise, 3D printing can turn your concept into a scaled product almost instantaneously. Over the past few years, this has saved us huge amounts of time when designing products & fully working prototypes for our customers.
It all starts by designing a 3D object on a PC – Our CAD engineer has a purpose-built computer and is a specialist in Solidworks® to handle the most complex designs – this allows our engineer to check the design is fully functional before any production is started. Once the design is completed & checked, the file is saved as a .stl file & then it is almost as easy as clicking print.
An inkjet printer works in a way that the printer produces a layer on top of the page. In theory, if you were to reprint over and over on the same page enough times the ink would eventually create a 3D model of each letter on the page. This is similar to how 3D printers work – the printer reads the file and translates the design into a physical product by building thousands of layers on top of each other. Those layers stick together to form a solid object. Each layer has its distinct footprint and the precision is translated from the design to the 3D printer without error – if the product doesn’t come out fully functional, it is more than likely an error in the design.
What are the limits of 3D printing & what can it be used for?
3D printers are nothing short of revolutionary – with the world we live in becoming increasingly ‘on-demand’, 3D printing is a way to supply the demand – from replacing parts that are no longer in production or difficult to get hold of to having a fully working prototype of an idea you had just 48 hours before. But its limits don’t stop there – due to the complex nature of a 3D printer, we can produce fully moving parts.
For example, 3D printers can create parts like hinges and wheels as part of the same object. You could print a whole bike – handlebars, saddle, frame, wheels, brakes, pedals & chain – ready assembled, without using any tools. As early as 2012, doctors have used this technology to replace bones, skin & even organs – with the first believed to be a transplant jaw made of titanium powder.
Although we only offer 3D printing in a variety of plastics, we are still truly fascinated by the unlimited potential of 3D printing and enjoy the projects we come across – after a few initial teething problems and minor tweaks, we are yet to see a failure from the printer!
Will 3D printers become a household must have?
When you look at the potential of 3D printers and new concepts, you might be excused from thinking you are in a back to the future movie. From 3D printed homes, personalised furniture, body parts & food to suit your taste all at the touch of a button, 3D printers are being put through their paces. They could eventually turn every home into mini-manufacturers where you can make almost anything at home and have it within hours of design. It would be an on-demand world where we would never run out stock, reduce over-production, save time and create less waste, packaging & pollution.
Currently, 3D printing is probably too expensive for the general consumer for it to become more a household staple than a product engineer’s top gadget, but at RTP we have been able to provide us a quick turnaround from customer consultations to prototype development. We have also been able to save time waiting for replacement parts and provide little tweaks to parts & tools that make our lives that little bit easier and provide a better finish to our products.
With it being the most recent addition to our plastic fabrication, we can offer a full consultation, design & prototyping of a product before a production run or we can also print your own design.
We print in .stl but we have the means to convert your design files to be compatible with our 3D printer. (.cgr (CATIA Graphics), .stp(STEP AP203), .x_b(Parasolid Binary), .x_t (Parasolid) are all accepted)
Our customers find 3D printing useful for scaled prototypes and replacement parts and we offer a rapid service.
We can offer a full in-house 3D printing service in the following materials:
- PLA (Polylactic Acid)
- PC (Polycarbonate)
- HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene)