- How quickly can parts be made?
We are flexible and will schedule jobs to meet a client’s required date. This can range from next day delivery to several weeks. Our typical time from order to dispatch is 3-4 working days. We won’t promise a date unless we are sure we can meet it, and we have an over 99% success rate with dispatching parts on time.
- What is the accuracy?
Being engineers, we are very aware how important this question is. We don’t quote generic accuracy figures as we feel it can be misleading. Typically other bureaus quote +0.1mm and +0.1% for SLA and +0.2mm and +0.2% for SLS. In reality, achieved tolerances can be better or worse than this and it is very dependent on geometry, part orientation, material and how well the machine is calibrated.
We do everything we can to ensure the best accuracy possible. Normal practice in the industry is to build a calibration (scale and beam size) part once every 6 months. We build these on every single build we do. This data we plot on graphs and we can make small adjustments over time to keep accuracy consistent. Often for these calibration parts, we are within +0.05mm in X and Y on both SLA and SLS, and sometimes up to +0.1mm. Z is more difficult, as layer thickness used is typically 0.1mm, so it not easy to get an accuracy better than this.
As every unique part will shrink differently (as part of the build process), calibration parameters will be a compromise to cope with all shapes and sizes of part. Rather than quote generic accuracy figures, we prefer to work with our clients on a case by case basis and understand their dimensional requirements. Then work with them to produce a part that is fit for purpose. When producing larger quantities of the same part, we can also use the first few parts to customise parameters specifically for that geometry and improve things further.
Feedback we often get from our clients is that the accuracy and fit of the parts we produce is better than other parts they have sourced elsewhere.
Please let us know your specific accuracy requirements for a part at the start of a project, and we will work with you to deliver a solution.
- How much do parts cost?
Cost for parts built directly with these technologies is driven mainly on size and not on complexity. An iPhone 6 sized part would start around £30, a part twice as large would start at £240. For production jobs with volumes in the hundreds and lead time in weeks, we can offer discounts.
- What is the largest size of part?
1.5m would be the largest we’d recommend, and we can design in joints, build the part in sections and bond together. We can build parts in one piece up to 300 to 600mm long (depending on material).
- What glue can I use?
We’d recommend using a good quality structural epoxy resin.
- Can I drill and tap the parts?
It is possible, but we’d recommend that the threads are designed and built into the part, for m5 upwards, and then using a tap just to clean out the thread. For sizes smaller than m5, bonding in brass threaded inserts is sometimes a good option.
- Are parts air and water tight?
We’d recommend additional sealing to guarantee this. We have a range of bespoke sealing options available to us depending on the application and we can test parts prior to shipping. Please let us know your requirements when discussing the project.
- Are parts chemical resistant?
This will depend on the material, and which chemical it needs to be resistant to. We have conducted our own internal tests for some common chemicals, with and without different sealing options. Please let us know your specific application and we will do what we can to look at a solution with you.
- What file formats do you accept?
We prefer STL files (resolution set to 0.01mm), but we can also accept IGES and STEP.
- What is the minimum wall thickness?
For SLA, features need to be over 0.5mm and for SLS, 0.8mm
- Can I combine parts together to reduce cost?
Not currently. Unfortunately this will not reduce our work to clean, finish and inspect the parts, but it will restrict our ability to orientate each part for getting the best finish and accuracy. If you need to reduce cost, try our online only service at 3dPrintDirect.co.uk
- Can I sand and paint the parts myself?
Yes, SLA parts are very suitable for this. SLS will take longer to get smooth and we’d recommend using several coats of filler primer. As with any process that creates dust, a dust mask must be worn.
- What is the difference between 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing?
The term “Additive Manufacturing” was first adopted in the 2000s to describe any of these new technologies which created parts by adding material layer by layer, compared with traditional manufacturing methods such as machining, turning and drilling which are subtractive manufacturing. “3D Printing” was acknowledged as a subset of additive manufacturing for lower cost “printers”. In the 2010s the great wave of media coverage has driven 3D Printing to become the accepted umbrella term for the industry and now additive manufacturing implies end-use parts or parts built within a manufacturing role.