Finnovation Product Development 3D Printing Blog
Many times in concept design, the designer decides to scrap the whole idea and start over. This is exactly what I decided to do with my 3D Printed business card. In my previous blog, Business CardConcept: Part One, I mentioned one of my intents was to showcase the capabilities of the 3D Printer. While the design I came up with could easily be made on a 3D Printer, the design was not exclusive to 3D Printing technology. The original design could easily be injected molded or even vacuum formed, provided the proper molds are produced. I need to come up with something that cannot be fabricated by any other manufacturing technology, except 3D Printing. I went back to the drawing board, and this is what I came up with.
This is the Virtual Prototype created in Autodesk Inventor. This CAD software allows the design to be engineered and error checked before production. Proper operation of CAD ensures working prototypes complete with proper fit and tolerances. In this case it is very important to check clearances. The spaces between the internal moving parts, and the housing, is just 0.010" If the clearance is any less than this the part will not function properly. Once the design is finalized it is sent to the 3D Printer for production.
This model was printed on a Dimension 1200es SST. This printer is able to maintain a minimum tolerance of 0.010" hence the reason to design with this number in mind. It is pushing the limits of the printer, and that is exactly what I intended to do. The layers are so thin in places that it allows light to pass through, however the design is very stable and durable. The gears move internally demonstrating the ability to print assembled moving parts. Each gear is 0.020" in thickness.
In the end this design was 3D Printed in 1 hour, completely assembled, and with moving parts. Currently there is no other technology that is capable of producing this in 1 piece. Therefore, it showcases 3D Printing technology and its capability. Furthermore, I get to witness the amazement in our client’s eyes as I explain the process, and that is the biggest measurement of success for the design of this project!