Not all 3D printing services are the same, especially when it comes to creating large size prototypes. This is where you separate the boys from the men.
3D printing is essentially simple. A thin layer of liquid or melted polymer or powder is deposited by a nozzle onto a substrate where it cools and solidifies or is cured by UV. A part is built up layer by layer by interpreting a 3D CAD design through software. Printers range in size from small desktop models to create small objects in large engineering models to create complex prototypes. PrintAWorld
As long as the prototype to be created is within the limitations of a printer, there is not much of an issue, though there are several matters that must be taken into consideration. If the size is larger than what the machine can print, it requires special expertise to put together a large prototype. This is where the difference lies when one chooses a 3D printing service to create large objects with complex profiles.
Large 3D printing service bureaus use the finest, high-end equipment to manufacture complex profiled prototypes with relative ease. The printers are coupled with high-end software and handled by engineer specialists that are well trailed in the areas of the printer and software.
A CAD design for a large prototype exceeding the capabilities of a printer is split into various sections. Each section is printed on a fused deposition modeling 3D printer using ABS or PC material in filament form. Expertise is required to slice the design into parts and then assemble them together using a unique welding process with liquid plastic to create a seamless, monolithic, structurally sound large part. The finished part looks like it emerged from a large 3D printer.
A complex profile prototype may have holes, overhangs, recesses, bridges and even threaded screw holes that must maintain dimensional tolerance after the printing is complete. ABS or any plastic tends to shrink on cooling and require precise calculations to ensure the finished prototype has holes or recesses that are dimensionally accurate. Experience, skills and knowledge of the staff handling the equipment at a large 3D printing service bureau mean a lot.
Inexperienced printers may waste a lot of materials before they can come up with a 3D printed prototype. Even then it may not have the required wall thickness, rigidity, strength or dimensional accuracy. These issues do not exist when one outsources work to professionals in 3D printing. How even orientation of build plate and placement affect the final outcome as regards accuracy along all three axes. And post processing is just as important as the printing process.
Where time is of the essence, an experienced printing service with its team of specialists and the best equipment always takes care of deadlines.
While 3D printers are highly sophisticated and versatile, they too have their limitations. Experienced machine operators know these limitations and develop key solutions.