Additive manufacturing is a type of 3D printing process that deposits materials in layers on top of one another according to digital 3D design data. 3D printing is increasingly being used as a synonym for additive manufacturing. However, the term additive manufacturing more accurately reflects the nature of the process.
While many conventional manufacturing methods are subtractive in nature, additive manufacturing is unique because it is the opposite of that. In additive manufacturing, material builds up in thin layers that are stacked on top of one another to form the desired component. Several types of materials can be used in additive manufacturing, including metals, plastics, and composite materials. Additive manufacturing is ideally suited to prototype manufacturing but is also increasingly being used in series production.
Additive manufacturing is a useful solution for many industries as it provides several significant benefits. For example, it allows for accelerated product development with simple customization possibilities. Integrating changes to a design can be accomplished quickly and at a lower cost, which leads to accelerated market entry. Manufacturers are also able to offer customers key benefits, such as cost reduction and sustainability.
While additive manufacturing can be used with different materials and in a range of slightly different methods, overall the process follows the same steps. The first task is to create a design using computer CAD software. This software plans out every detail of the final design and is used by engineers to predict how the final structure will behave. This digital blueprint is the first vital step in the additive manufacturing process.
Once the design is complete, it gets converted into a standard tessellation language file (.stl), so that the 3D printer can interpret the instructions. Before the object creation can begin, the printer needs to be set up according to the orientation of the design. The cartridges need to be filled with the appropriate powder or binder material to complete the job, and the project’s size and orientation need to be programmed into the printer. After these steps have been completed, the printer is ready to create the object.
The design will be executed one thin layer at a time. Typically, each layer is around 0.1 mm in thickness, but larger or smaller layers can be created depending on the needs of your design. During the printing process, no intervention or assistance is needed, the printer will continue layering the materials until the design is completed. This could take anywhere from several hours to several days to complete, depending on the design’s complexity and size.
There are several significant benefits additive manufacturing offers over other production methods. For example, additive manufacturing allows for changes to be made to a product’s design quickly and easily. Manufacturers can test out many versions of a prototype without significant cost and time sacrifices. It is also advantageous to the supply chain by reducing storage and inventory costs, producing fewer components within a single product. 3D Printing allows you to manufacture products without tooling, and to consolidate assemblies into single parts.
Designers are no longer limited by subtractive manufacturing or complex assembly processes. You can now grow your parts with the geometry and material you need. Whether you need specific internal features in your part or conformal cooling flow paths for your molds, HARBEC can help. By leveraging HARBEC’s additive and machining capability, you can have both the internal features and the external finish and tolerances your design demands.
In comparison to traditional subtractive manufacturing processes, additive manufacturing generates significantly less waste. Instead of removing unwanted material, only the necessary amount is utilized in the additive production process, virtually eliminating waste. In fact, additive manufacturing can reduce waste and material costs by as much as 90%.
Traditional manufacturing methods, on the other hand, require a block of material larger than what the finished component will be. For example, milling machines require a large amount of source material to begin with and then remove the excess in the form of small shavings which cannot be reused. Additive manufacturing requires less material than other production methods to create the same components.
HARBEC strives to incorporate designs from nature to improve the performance of your part. Already, we’ve received grants funding biomimetic research into its application on mold design. Using a leaf for inspiration, we applied the vein structure to the back side of the mold cavity, and were able to decrease the cycle time by 20% as a result.
From a few days to a couple of weeks, HARBEC can provide functionally correct, dimensionally accurate engineering prototypes from your supplied CAD files. The prototypes and models from HARBEC are working, engineered components that will demonstrate all of the requirements for the eventual production part.
HARBEC employs many leading-edge technologies to offer the best and most contemporary capabilities to our customers. Discover more about HARBEC’s Manufacturing Solutions including:
|Process||Machine||Materials||Build Volume||Cosmetics||Layer Height||Tolerances|
Nylon (with optional carbon fiber, Fiberglass,kevlar infill)
|320 x 132 x 154 mm|
(12.6 x 5.2 x 6 in)
|Fair||0.1 mm — .2 mm||0.01 inch|
Aluminum (6061 & ALSI)
|250 x 250 x 325 mm|
(9.85 x 9.85 x 12.8 in)
|Fair||0.02 — 0.08 mm||0.005 inch|
|3D Systems Projet6000||Accura 25 (formerly VisiJet SL Flex)||250 x 250 x 250 mm|
(9.85 x 9.85 x 9.85 in)
|Excellent||0.05 – 0.025 mm||0.01 inch|
Standard Resin (Black, Grey, White, Clear)
|145 × 145 × 175 mm|
(5.71 x 5.71 x 6.89 in)
|Excellent||0.05 – 0.025 mm||0.01 inch|
|POLYJET||Objet 260 Connex 2||Digital ABS|
|254 x 254 x 200 mm|
(10 x 10 x 7.8 in)
|Excellent||0.016 mm||0.005 inch|
|Roboze Argo 500||Ultem|
Carbon Fiber Peek
Carbon Fiber Nylon
|500 x 500 x 200 mm|
(19.6 x 19.6 x 19.6 in)
|0.2 – 0.25 mm||0.01 inch|
At HARBEC, we deliver precision components and prototypes, using a variety of manufacturing methods. Our dynamic range of rapid prototype solutions, coupled with capabilities in precision tools and molds and injection molding, enables us to offer a complete solution for customers in one location. HARBEC also provides the following design support:
Part Design Optimization
From initial design and concept modeling stages, through advanced production tooling requirements, to low or high volume production injection molding and secondary processes, HARBEC takes full responsibility for meeting our customer’s requirements. HARBEC creates value for our customers by reducing manufacturing risk through innovation, superior technical knowledge, and application of state-of-the-art equipment, materials, and know-how.
Please fill out this form to receive a quick quote for your product.
Build Plastic Parts with Our Selective Laser Sintering
Laser-sintering is well known as the technology of choice for ensuring the quickest route from product idea to market launch. Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is an additive process where layers of powder are deposited, then solidified with a computer-driven laser to form a 3D model. Selective Laser Sintering produces complex and finely featured parts with exceptional accuracy and unlimited design flexibility. Part stacking and nesting means faster build times, more productivity and less waste, making SLS a practical process for low volume production parts. Because SLS prototypes and parts are not cut from stock, less material and less energy is used.
Get A Handle On Your Ideas… Within A Week!
Going to a show and need to have fully functional parts? Call us. We will work with you to meet your rapid product development schedule. With the capacity of two 3D Systems Sinterstations, we offer more material choices, more flexibility, and more benefits than ever before. From one to one hundred thousand pieces, we will deliver just what you need when you need it.
Transform 3D Data to Dimensional Objects Quickly
Turn 3D data into three dimensional plastic, elastomer, or metal objects utilizing any, or a combination, of our advanced technologies. Parts from HARBEC’s new SLS equipment build up to 11″ x 13″ x 17″ and require no support structures. The variety of SLS materials available and the accuracy of the process allow parts to imitate, or actually be final products. To expedite your design process, HARBEC’s Real-Time Collaboration program enables you to work out details with our design engineers and our expansive library allows us to translate over 50 CAD file types.
Our Rugged Materials Will Withstand Rigorous Testing
With SLS, a wide range of materials such as nylon-like polyamides, glass-filled polyamides, and rubber-like elastomers are available. SLS prototypes are built of rugged materials that will withstand aggressive functional testing under a variety of conditions. This allows designers the ability to refine and verify the part design. SLS parts resist heat and chemicals, are impervious to water, can be painted or dyed, readily joined mechanically or by adhesives and are able to be machined, and welded. The long-term stability of many materials means parts can be used in final applications.
The Simple SLS Process:
Stereolithography is an additive manufacturing process which employs a vat of liquid ultraviolet curable photopolymer “resin” and an ultraviolet laser to build parts’ layers one at a time. For each layer, the laser beam traces a cross-section of the part pattern on the surface of the liquid resin. Exposure to the ultraviolet laser light cures and solidifies the pattern traced on the resin and joins it to the layer below.
After the pattern has been traced, the SLA’s elevator platform descends by a distance equal to the thickness of a single layer, typically 0.05 mm to 0.15 mm (0.002 to 0.006 in). Then, a resin-filled blade sweeps across the cross-section of the part, re-coating it with fresh material. On this new liquid surface, the subsequent layer pattern is traced, joining the previous layer. A complete 3D part is formed by this process. After being built, parts are immersed in a chemical bath in order to be cleaned of excess resin and are subsequently cured in an ultraviolet oven.
Stereolithography requires the use of supporting structures which serve to attach the part to the elevator platform, prevent deflection due to gravity and hold the cross sections in place so that they resist lateral pressure from the re-coater blade. Supports are generated automatically during the preparation of 3D Computer Aided Design models for use on the stereolithography machine, although they may be manipulated manually. Supports must be removed from the finished product manually, unlike in other, less costly, rapid prototyping technologies. Wikipedia
Build Metal Parts with Our Direct Metal Laser Sintering
Take advantage of HARBEC’s EOSINT M 290 and EOSINT M 270 laser sintering systems for the production of tooling inserts, prototype parts and direct manufactured parts in various metals. The Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) technology fuses metal powder into a solid part by melting it locally using a focused laser beam. Similar to SLS, the parts are built additively: layer by layer. Even highly complex geometries are created directly from 3D CAD data, automatically, in just a few hours without any tooling. It is a net-shape process, producing products with high accuracy and detail resolution, good surface quality and excellent mechanical properties. A wide variety of metals can be direct metal laser sintered, ranging from light alloys via steels to super-alloys and composites. DMLS is widely used to produce positive parts directly from CAD data. The components can be prototypes, series production parts or even spare parts. DMLS is also well known as a leading technology for tool making using an application known as DirectTool. With its high accuracy and surface quality, the direct process eliminates tool-path generation and multiple machining processes such as EDM (Electrical Discharge Machining). Tool inserts are built overnight or even in just a few hours. With DMLS, the freedom of design can be used to optimize tool performance, for example by integrating conformal cooling channels into the tool.
The Aviation Industry is highly regulated with demands and controls that ensure the safety and reliability of equipment and materials. Our aviation, space and defense customers can be confident that HARBEC retains a certified Quality Management System which is well implemented and designed to deliver increased customer satisfaction as a natural by-product of tracking key quality goals of on-time delivery and compliant product to our customers. Our processes are monitored to improve efficiency, ensure product safety and reliability while continually improving.
More Information >
The Medical Industry is highly regulated with demands and controls that ensure regulatory requirements and customer expectations are met. Our medical device customers can be confident that HARBEC retains a certified Quality Management System which is well implemented and designed to deliver increased customer satisfaction as a natural by-product of tracking key quality goals of on-time delivery and compliant product to our customers. Our ISO 13485 management system adopts a risk management approach which, while having these controls in place, eliminates hazardous situations throughout the product realization process.
More Information >
HARBEC is a registered ITAR company. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) is a set of United States Government regulations on the export and import of defense related articles and services. Our Defense and Military customers can have complete confidence that HARBEC has an established and implemented ITAR compliance program and adhere to the strict guidelines set forth by ITAR and EAR statutes.
More Information >