Carbon fiber has one of the highest strength to weight ratios of any material out there. This makes it one of the best options for manufacturers looking to create parts that are strong but still remain lightweight. The fibers themselves are made up of carbon atoms whose crystal structure is aligned into strands, making the strands incredibly strong when under tension. 3D printing with carbon fiber can be difficult at times, but the advantages it provides are hard to find with any other material.
Carbon fiber is a very difficult material to use in FDM 3D printing. For starters, carbon fiber is much more resilient to heat, so you will want to make sure your print head is set to a higher temperature, around 220 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, since carbon fiber is stronger than steel, using carbon fiber filament with a steel or brass print head will actually begin to bore open the hole of your nozzle. Because of this, it is important to use a hardened steel nozzle, or even a sapphire nozzle to try and limit this heavy wear and tear. If you don't, you are going to have to replace your nozzle every 500 grams or so. Another thing you will want to do, is play around with the flow and retraction properties of your printer. Because this material is so gritty, it can sometimes be difficult to maintain a good level of flow and surface finish, so adjusting your printer settings will help ensure that you're getting the best print possible. Once you have the proper settings dialed in, you will be left with some great looking parts. The surface finish on carbon fiber parts looks great because the grittiness of the material really helps blend in those layer lines.
So those are the main things to be aware of when printing with carbon fiber. Although it takes a little extra time to optimize the settings of your printer for carbon fiber printing, you won't regret it because you will end up with parts that not only look better, but also function better and are more durable. So if you are looking to expand upon the materials that you print with, look into getting some carbon fiber. We're sure you won't regret it.
With Christmas season approaching quickly, we are about to begin seeing the yearly spike in demand that happens every year during the holidays. Many stores, Etsy stores included, are flooded with people trying to order Christmas gifts for their loved ones. This can quickly become overwhelming, especially for smaller Etsy stores that may not have the infrastructure needed to handle this high demand. That is where third party print farms, like Slant 3D, become very useful. Here, at Print Farm Beta, we have hundreds of machines that are ready to help you keep up with the massive influx of orders that you will receive during the busiest times of the year. In this guide we will show you, step by step, how you can integrate your Etsy store with Slant 3D production, so that you no longer have to worry about keeping up with spikes in demand.
Step 1: Get a Quote
The first step to having Slant 3D support your Etsy store is getting a quote through our online Quoting Form. Fill out the necessary information and upload a 3D file of whatever product you are looking to have produced. Make sure to mention that you are requesting this for your Etsy store and provide us with a rough estimate of how many units per month you will need. This will allow our account engineers to evaluate the kind of quantities your are dealing with, as well as, how often shipping will occur. They will then be able to come up with a set price for how much it will cost to produce each unit. This price will reflect how much it will cost for our print on demand model, so whenever an order comes in, we will print it and ship it out to your customer within 24-48 hours, depending on the size and complexity of your product. If you have any custom packaging or inserts that you like to use, those can be utilized as well. We would just need you to send us the packaging/inserts and we will make sure to get them into the production line for any of your orders. This does increase cost so, again, make sure to include that in your quote request.
The alternative to that would be just a standard production model, where you want to build up an inventory and handle shipping yourself. In that case, you would just need to let us know, "Hey, I need (X) amount of this product." and we can print them all in one go and then ship them to you. However, most Etsy stores that we partner with prefer the print on demand model because there is no cash outlay until someone actually orders one of your products.
Step 2: Order a Sample
Once you have a quote that you are happy with, the next step will be to order a sample. This will allow you to make sure that we are meeting the standard of expectations for your store, and allow us to make sure that we know what those standards are. Some people want purely functional parts, they don't really care about the resolution, surface finish, or any other aesthetic qualities. They just want a part with high functionality that can be printed quickly and for a low cost. Other people have exceptionally high resolution parts that need to have a smooth surface finish and might need a little bit more post processing, such as sanding, painting, etc. So, ordering a sample ensures that we have a quality control checklist to reference so that we can make sure we are maintaining the level of quality that you provide to your customers. Make sure to allow a couple weeks for this process to take place, as there can be a lot of back and forth of sending a sample, making any adjustments that are needed, and then sending an updated version.
Step 3: Integrate Your Store
After we determine the expectations for your product and you are satisfied with the quality we are producing, we can then move on to getting your Etsy store integrated into our system. If you only have around 1-10 predetermined products that you offer, you can just send us those products and we will implement them into the system and you're good to go. On the other hand, if you offer custom products, such as custom cookie cutters, keychains, or things of that nature, we will need to set you up with a Google Drive folder where you can upload those custom files. Our automated system will then pull those files as they come in and get them into production. This provides you with an easy way to upload custom files to our system, and allows us to have access to those files as the orders come through.
Step 4: Set up ShipStation
You will then need to set up a ShipStation account and provide us with user access. A ShipStation account will cost around $25/month and will allow us to purchase shipping labels through your preferred billing method so that you are able to manage your budget. It will also notify our automated system whenever an order comes in, so that it can find the necessary file, send it to one of our machines and begin printing. This provides a very streamlined production process with limited human error. At the end of each month, you will be billed for the number of items that were shipped through your Etsy store multiplied by the per unit price agreed upon during the quoting process.
So hopefully this guide gives you a good idea about how easy it is to get your Etsy store integrated with Slant 3D and how beneficial it can be to have a manufacturing backend. By allowing us to handle the production side of your business, you will free up a lot of time and effort that can be spent on more important things, like marketing your store, interacting with customers, and developing new products. So make sure to check out our website to learn a little bit more about Slant 3D and see if we are a good fit for any needs that you may have. Also, make sure to check out our Youtube video that goes over this same information in a little more detail.
There are constant advancements being made in the world of additive manufacturing. From printers parts to cloud systems, the industry is always looking to advance the capabilities of 3D printing. One of the latest advancements comes from Desktop Metal, a metal binder jetting manufacturer. Desktop Metal has recently launched Forust, a branch company that will specialize in high-volume production of sustainable wood products using recycled wood waste. These products will include consumer goods, car interiors, as well as building materials for homes and high-end architectural pieces.
In a time when sustainability is a major concern for a large number of people, many companies are being championed for their efforts to reduce their environmental impact, especially in the building industry, which has been historically known for having high amounts of material waste. With Forust, Desktop Metal hopes to reduces the need for deforestation as a way to source wood material. Rather, they will be utilizing byproducts from the wood manufacturing industry, such as sawdust and cellulose dust, as well as those from the paper industry, like lignin. These materials are combined with bio-resins and converted into functional wood parts. This gives architects, developers, and manufacturers a new opportunity to produce projects with a significantly reduced environmental footprint.
In addition to increased sustainability, there are a number of other advantages that Forust can provide. In the vein of additive manufacturing, the 3D printed wood will allow the chance to create much more complex geometries that wouldn't be possible with traditional woodworking practices. This will allow much more freedom for designers to create with wooden materials. Further, the materials produced by Forust will be comparable to conventional wood materials, in terms of strength and functionality. These materials can also mimic a wide variety of wood types, such as oak, teak, and walnut, and can even be produced to include various grain textures.
With new technologies like this being introduced everyday, it is becoming more and more evident that we are progressing towards a world of additive manufacturing. Although 3D printing has been around for nearly 30 years, it has only been in recent years that we are beginning to truly explore and develop it's potential applications. That is why it is so inspiring to see companies, like Forust, leading the charge towards a more sustainable, efficient, and affordable future. As a company trying to do the same, we at Slant3D appreciate the efforts being made.
One thing about the 3D printing industry is that it moves very quickly. It is dynamic, and there are constantly new technologies coming out every 6 to 18 months. So, as new developments and technologies come up, the 3D printing industry is making old technologies obsolete. This is especially true with FDM printers, which is what we use here at Slant 3D. After nearly 4 years of operating the World's Largest Print Farm, we have a learned a few things about mass production 3D printing, and the bottom line is, printing farms CANNOT use third party machines. The reason for this is that after about 18 months, your entire infrastructure will be obsolete and need to be replaced. This could be a huge issue if you have hundreds, if not thousands, of machines. So, it is extremely important, for a company that manufactures 3D printed parts, to build their own internal machines.
This is why Slant 3D designed the Mason 3D Printer. This printer was originally designed as a production 3D printer, so we were able to create a machine that: 1) didn't go obsolete in a few years, and 2) allowed us to update the machines, rather than replace them, as technologies evolved. Another big reason we designed the Mason, is because there isn't really a third party machine out there that has been designed for mass production 3D printing. So, it was virtually impossible for us to find a machine that was optimized to fulfill the demand of printing thousands of parts at a time. The reason being, most third party 3D printers are designed for consumer use. These printers have a lot of the bells and whistles that make them convenient and user-friendly, however, they lack any of the optimizations or concessions that you need for mass production. They are designed around the trends of consumer sentiment, which is very detrimental because trends typically become outdated very quickly. Once a product becomes outdated, the designer usually dumps it and moves on to the next trendy thing.
Simply put, there is no way for a mass production print farm to operate and be profitable while using third party 3D printers. The margins just aren't large enough to be able to afford replacing machinery every few years. So that is why Slant 3D decided to build our own machines and why we strongly recommend, to anyone that is seriously looking to start a print farm, to do the same.
One of the biggest advantages that 3D printing has over Injection Molding is its ability to save you money on both upfront and long term costs. By eliminating molds and warehousing, as well as, reducing waste, 3D printing drastically reduces the overhead costs of traditional manufacturing. Let's go a little deeper into each of these cost saving benefits.
For starters, the biggest way 3D printing will save you money is by eliminating the cost of molds. Even a small, single cavity mold will usually costs anywhere from $1,000-$5,000, whereas a larger, more complex mold can be upwards of $80,000. 3D printing completely eliminates these massive upfront costs. So, rather than having to sell hundreds, or even thousands of parts just to make back the money spent on molds, you can immediately begin making profit with additive manufacturing.
With 3D printing being a fully digital process, you never have to worry about storing any of your product. Parts can simply be printed on demand, providing you have the infrastructure in place to be able to address spikes when they happen. 3D printing eliminates the cost of inventory because you don't have to pay for a warehouse to store 10,000 parts for 10 years while they get sold. You also don't have to keep a surplus of parts around in case that part goes obsolete, which is another huge cost saving benefit. Since parts aren't produced until they are needed, you eliminate the loses from obsolescence, which makes up a significant percentage of spare part costs.
All in all, additive manufacturing ends up being the much cheaper option when it comes to mass production manufacturing. The elimination of molds, reducing of waste, and lack of need for warehousing ends up saving you a lot of money, both upfront and long term. If you are looking for a cheaper alternative to traditional manufacturing, begin looking into additive manufacturing, and there's no better place to start than right here, at Slant3D.
There are a variety of different materials used in 3D printing, including PLA, PETG, ABS, and TPU as the most common. Each of these materials have their own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to deciding which material is best for your specific project. Today, we will go over these materials and hopefully get you on the right track.
Next, we have Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, or ABS, which is another thermoplastic polymer typically used in manufacturing processes. ABS was the "original" 3D printing material because it is the most common thermoplastic available in the world. For a short period of time, it was the most popular material used in 3D printing, however its reign was short lived due to it being difficult to use. ABS is known to suffer from pretty bad warping which is detrimental when it comes to 3D printing. It also has a high forming temperature which means you have to have really high temperatures on your printing bed in order to support it. ABS can also be fairly dangerous due to the outgassing, so it can potentially become harmful if you are printing a high volume of parts.
Lastly, Thermoplastic Polyurethane, or TPU, is often referred to as the bridge between rubber and plastics. It is an extremely flexible material that be somewhat difficult to work with at times unless you are using a direct drive 3D printer. This is due to the fact that TPU pulls water out of the air, which can cause the material to bubble up, leading to a jammed extruder. It generally runs at a higher temperature than other materials, but it results in a very durable and chemical resistant finished product. TPU is great if you are looking to make a product that is more malleable and has softer properties.
Make sure to check out our YouTube video covering this same topic.
In our last blog post, we went over some of the primary printing processes used in additive manufacturing. Today, we will cover why we decided to go with an FDM printing process here at Slant3D.
So hopefully this post shed some light on why we decided to use an FDM printing process here at Slant3D. The existing materials base makes it an incredibly cost-effective and convenient process. The ease of scaling up to produce hundreds, or even thousands, of parts at one time. And, the ability to pull finished parts right off the printer and ship them without having to spend hours post processing. These are just a few of the many reasons why FDM printing is the best option when it comes to mass production 3d printing, and why we have chosen this process here at Slant3D. Dont forget to check out our video on this same topic down below.
When it comes to 3d printing, there are typically 3 primary printing processes that come to mind; FDM, Resin Based, and Powder Jetting. In this blog post, we will go over the strengths and weaknesses of each of these processes.
FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling)
The biggest downside of FDM, is that it can produce parts with a somewhat rough surface finish. Because the material must be extruded in layers, and has a certain thickness predefined by the nozzle, high detail prints can be hard to achieve. However, in most cases, this roughness is so minute that it has no effect on the function of whatever you are printing. All in all, the FDM printing process remains as the most commonly used process in 3d printing, and for good reason. There aren't many 3d printing processes that are as quick, versatile, or cost-effective.
Resin Based (DLP/SLA)
Any type of resin based 3d printing, whether it be DLP (Digital Light Processing) or SLA (Stereolithography), typically all function under the same principle, using a light source to cure a liquid resin into a hardened plastic. In SLA 3d printing, a build platform is lowered into a thin layer of resin where a laser is used to draw out the first layer of the object. The laser hardens the resin and the build platform is then raised back up so a new layer of resin can be added. This process repeats until, layer by layer, the object is finished.
Resin based parts offer the highest accuracy and best resolution, in terms of surface finish. These parts will be the most similar in quality to traditional injection molded parts. The drawback of resin based printing is that it requires a lot of post-processing. Once the parts are printed they must be washed in isopropyl alcohol to remove any uncured resin from their surface. Then, the parts must go through a post-curing process to help them reach their maximum amount of strength and stability. Finally, supports must be snipped away and the remaining support marks must be sanded down to the desired surface finish. To sum up, resin based parts are great for small scale projects that require a high quality, smooth surface finish. However, it is not very conducive to mass production due to the high amount of post-processing required.
Much like resin based printing, powder jetting has many different types of processes that fall underneath it but they all work under the same basic concept. An industrial printhead selectively deposits a liquid binding agent onto a thin layer of powder. This powder then hardens and a new layer of powder is added so the printhead can deposit more binding agent and process repeats layer by layer until the object you are printing is finished. When its all said and done, your part is embedded in the powder like a fossil in the dirt. Then, you dig out your finished product, wash off the excess powder, and then put the parts through a post-curing process to strengthen them.
In conclusion, each of these printing processes have their fair share of advantages and disadvantages. Some, like FDM, are better suited for large scale production. Whereas others, like resin based, are more suited for small scale, high quality parts. Selecting the right printing process comes down to accessing the advantages and limitations of each technology to your products most important requirements. Although there is no one size fits all solution, properly utilizing 3D printing technology throughout your product's development will reduce design risk and, ultimately, result in better products.
One of the strongest qualities of 3d printing, particularly FDM 3d printing, is it's ability to take the same material, with the same properties, but make the part itself behave very differently.
For example, both products in the above image are made from the exact same material, TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane). They are both a 95A durometer TPU which is a fairly reasonable stiffness, about as stiff as a pencil eraser. However, when printed, the product on the left came out about the same stiffness as a pencil eraser, whereas the one on the right is much more flexible and soft (Figure B). The reason behind this is is because with 3d printing we're actually able to change the macroscopic structure of the part, thus allowing them to have very different qualities. In Figure C, you can see how the product consists of a lot of little strings stacked up on top of one another, making it very soft and flexible.
With 3d printing, we are able to vary the hardness of any parts that we print, all the way from fully solid to super flexible
and anywhere in between. This is absolutely impossible for any other machining process because this type of structure
is impossible to build with traditional Injection Molding. 3d printing gives you the ability to control the properties of the part while still using the same kind of limited inventory of materials. So no matter how odd your product may be, look into 3d printing as a way to get the exact specs that your product needs to function properly.
Generally speaking, building a print farm can be a pretty expensive investment. Starting out, you would need to buy anywhere from 10-20 machines and scale up your farm from there. But, 10 machines, at around $500 each, would result in pretty high upfront costs. So how can you get the scale of the printing farm to where you can produce 100's or even 1000's of pieces, without actually having to buy all of those machines?
Well that's why 3D printing farm services such as Slant 3D were created, so that as businesses are scaling up, instead of having to invest all that money into machines, they can just use the service to grow their customer base and be able to support those orders as they increase. Then once they hit those milestones and generate more revenue, they can then begin to buy more machines and begin printing in-house. This is a huge benefit because an internal print farm gives you much quicker control of the design, as well as, allows you to control your supply base. This limits the amount of delays and supply chain issues you may run into otherwise.