Browsing articles in "Selective Laser Sintering"
Oct 27, 2011
Comments Off on 3D printing community aim to rehouse homeless hermit crabs.

3D printing community aim to rehouse homeless hermit crabs.

3D Printed shells for hermit crabs
3D printing could rehouse homeless hermit crabs.

While the heading of this post may appear strange the creative minds at MakerBot Industries, manufacturers of do it yourself 3D printers, have devised a plan to tackle the growing threat to hermit crabs, the man-made housing shortage that threatens the entire species. The project known as Project Shelltor intends to utilize the Makerbot community’s design skills to design and produce shells for hermit crabs.

Hermit crabs are born shell-less, therefore they must scavenge for suitable housing – usually a shell which will protect them from predators and provide suitable space for growth. Each spring a growth spurt causes them to abandon their home and once again begin the search for suitable housing, but a severe shortage of shells has forced hermit crabs to fight over inadequate housing such as bottle caps, aluminium cans and other bits of trash.

Lead by Miles Lightwood, the “Shelltor project” challenges designers to create “crabitats”, shells created using a right handed helix that will accommodate the natural curve of hermit crabs bodies. While commentators have questioned the safety of this project, Makerbot insist that no shells have be placed into the wild (shells are intended for domestic use only, to avoid environmental implications from putting plastic into the sea) and a suitable non toxic material will need to be sourced to prevent the hermit crabs ingesting potentially dangerous materials (hermit crabs do ingest bits of the shell now and then).

While it remains to be seen if hermit crabs will even consider a 3D-printed shell as a suitable home, the Shelltor project is indicative of novel and helpful uses for 3D printing

Aug 23, 2011
Comments Off on Taking aircraft from design to 100mph in just 7 days

Taking aircraft from design to 100mph in just 7 days

Early this August the world of 3d printing turned it sights to the UK’s Wiltshire Downs, north of Stonehenge, as the worlds first fully “printed” plane took flight, achieving a max speed of 100mph.

This new printed aircraft, known as SULSA, forms part of a wider project on cutting-edge maufacturing techniques at the Southhampton University. The team led by Jim Scanlan and Andy Keane belive that 3d printing will revolutionise the design and manufacture of uncrewed aircraft known as drones or UAV’s, allowing for enhanced design, lower lead times and significant cost reductions over traditional methods.

Using 3d printing technology it was possible to for design team to take elements from some of the best ideas in aviation history such as the ultra low drag eliptical wing design of the Supermarine Spitfire and the strong geodesic airfrome of the Vickers Wellington bomber. With a £5000 budget the incorporation of these designs using traditional manufacturing techniques would have been cost prohibitive, however the use of laser sintering removed such cost constraints.

As 3d printing is based on additive technology no cutting or grinding of metal is required allowing vast design freedom. “With 3d printing we can go back to pure forms and explore the mathematics of airflow without being forced to put in straight lines to keep costs down” Keane explained. The design of the SULSA took a mere two days with production of final parts taking  five days to complete.

Watch the SULSA’s maiden flight below.

Jul 15, 2011
Comments Off on Automotive giant fast tracks fuel efficiency with Rapid Prototyping

Automotive giant fast tracks fuel efficiency with Rapid Prototyping

Deep within the American automotive giant, General Motors design building lies a high security Rapid Prototyping lab. It is here future products for brands such as Chevrolet, Buik and Cadillac take shape thanks to a team of highly trained technicians, and two Rapid Prototyping processes – Stereolithography and Selective Laser Sintering

Both technologies have been used on a number of innovative vehicles such as the pre-production Chevrolet Volt, with Rapid Prototyping used to streamline the aesthetic design, and facilitate early stage testing and validation of under bonnet system design.  The Rapid Manufacture of components,  intricate sub assemblies and even scale model cats has allowed for General Motors to benefit from considerable savings in time and money as a result of  significant gains in creativity, flexibility and accuracy.

The 2001 Chevrolet Volt

General Motors pre-production electric Chevrolet Volt - designed with the help of Rapid Prototyping technology

In a recent interview General Motors Director of Design Fabrication Operations, Dave Bolognino said “thanks to the rapid pace of production from the Rapid Prototyping laboratory, General Motors aerodynamics lab has been able to double its capacity of testing scale models over the past two years, contributing to improved fuel efficiency on future GM vehicles. He continued by adding “Its a great way to reduce product development time, save costs, and give designers more options. I don’t see any end sight for General Motors use of this technology”

Jul 8, 2011
Comments Off on Rapid Prototyping Webinar

Rapid Prototyping Webinar

Laser Prototypes today announced a free live webinar on rapid prototyping processes on Thursday, July 14th, 2011 from 14:00 pm to 14:35 pm. This webinar will provide an overview of the main Rapid Prototyping processes and the factors which should be considered when choosing the right process for your individual project requirements. Anyone interested in learning about the Rapid Prototyping processes is invited to the informative session. To register for this webinar please click here.

Campbell Evans, Sales Director at Laser Prototypes with over 15 years experience in Rapid Prototyping, will present the session. During the 25 minute webinar. This session will outline the main prototyping techniques available today, including Stereolithography, Selective Laser Sintering, Vacuum Casting and 3D printing.

A live question and answer session will follow the presentation.

About Laser Prototypes

Laser Prototypes are the longest esablished Rapid Prototyping bureau in the UK and Ireland. Since opening its doors in 1991 Laser Prototypes have built a reputation for both quality and reliability, offering high quality prototype models to a wide range of customers, across all industry sectors, on time and on budget.

Jun 23, 2011
Comments Off on SLS helps produce the tennis racket of champions

SLS helps produce the tennis racket of champions

SLS is used in design of tennis rackets.

SLS ensures optimal performance for new sporting equipment designs.

The tennis racket manufacturer of choice, for tennis stars such as Nikolay Davydenko, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Jelena Jankovic, Prince Sports has enlisted the help of SLS technology to ensure the optimal performance of their range of tennis rackets.

Working closely with a local rapid prototyping bureau, Prince sports required the manufacture of inserts/outer clips surrounding the racket perimeter and an  initial prototype 1:1 scale aesthetic model of a prototype tennis racket, which if the inserts/outer clips SLS manufacture proved successful would be the first in a series of 30 rackets inspired by this technology.

While initial testing of the inserts and outer clips unfortunately resulted in the insert giving way, th

ese early tests allowed for the initial design to be upgraded to enhance the performance durability of the overall insert design. For Prince Sports these early testings of the inserts are crucial to the performance of the overall piece, as loss of energy due to insert deformation will impact on the speed of the ball, a key consideration for tennis players competing against some of the worlds best players.

Once satisfied with the insert design a 1:1 scale model of the racket frame and bumper was produced, with all three parts assembled upon completion. For Prince Sports the prototype racket assisted in the further development of the aesthetics and functional of the overall design.

Jun 13, 2011
Comments Off on Shoemaker grows business with 3D Printing

Shoemaker grows business with 3D Printing

The UK based, global shoe manufacturer Clarks has transformed its product development process with the aid of 3D printing technology.

Clarks 3D Printed Shoes
3D printed prototypes reduce product development lead times and costs for Clarks


Breaking away from the traditional approach to shoe design, Clarks has introduced 3D printing to their design process, leading to considerable savings in both development costs and lead times. The traditional approach begins with hand sketches on paper, which are reviewed and revised several times over until a product concept is approved. The upper materials are then sourced and the concept sent to a shoe factory, and then you wait for several weeks for the sample show to arrive. The sample is then reviewed and original sketches once again revised and modified prototypes ordered until the final product design is reached.

For Clarks this lengthy and often costly design process has been thoroughly modernised with the help of 3d printing technology. After the initial paper sketch, designs are moved to 3D CAD software where designs can be manipulated with minimal effort until product managers are happy with the on-screen concept. And then with the simple push of a button a prototype shoe can be quickly printed in the design office, shrinking the design process significantly.

For Clarks digital development manager Ross Arthurs 3D printing has allowed Clarks to “respond to the market faster than ever” and “to evolve from the best shoemakers in the world into the best innovators in the world” (TCT Magazine 04/11).

Jun 9, 2011
Comments Off on Selective Laser Sintering takes flight

Selective Laser Sintering takes flight

Scientists at FESTO have unlocked the secrets to the swooping movement of birds in flight.

A revolutionary feat of engineering, the SmartBird design allows it to not only fly but also start and land autonomously – without the help of any additional drive systems-. Inspired by the herring seagull, and boasting
2 meter long wings the SmartBird when left to its own devices can simply glide through the skies or can be controlled through a radio handset.

The robot’s wings can not only beat up and down but also twist at specific angles along their length in the very same way that a real bird’s do. Directional control is achieved through the opposing movement of the Smartbirds head and torso sections which allow for aerodynamic movement and simultaneous weight displacement, while the tail produces lift functions.

Smartbird: Excellent Aerodynic Qualities and Extreme Agility
Realistic: The SmartBird’s wings not only beat up and down, they also twist at specific angles

Packed inside the SmartBird’s torso are the battery, engine and transmission, crank transmission and control and regulation electronics. In order to ensure the SmartBird could float through the air with moderate flapping, it was necessary to ensure minimal use of materials and the lightweight construction, this was achieved through the SLS process which allowed for a functional housing to be constructed at minimal weight – the SmartBird weighs a maximum of 450 grams

So realistic are the movements of the Smartbird that from the ground it would be easy to mistake it for the real thing.

We at Laser Prototypes are excited to see where Rapid Prototyping will show up next!

Jun 3, 2011
Comments Off on Report on Medical Applications of Additive Manufacturing Released

Report on Medical Applications of Additive Manufacturing Released

One of the UK’s leading Rapid Prototyping bureaus Laser Prototypes have released a complimentary Additive Manufacturing report focused on the Medical applications of Rapid Prototyping, 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing.

Find out how scientists are working to help burns victims through the adaptation of 3D printing techniques. Learn how medical device companies are using Rapid Prototyping technologies to produce fully customised end products while surgeons apply the very same technology to increase success rates in complex procedures. Along with providing an interesting insight into just what is possible in manufacturing today, this report highlights some of the latest processes and materials within the Additive Manufacturing industry

We thought you might find the report of interest, so we have added it to the download section of our site.

Jun 1, 2011
Comments Off on EOS unveil the new EOSINT M280

EOS unveil the new EOSINT M280


EOS M280
Image courtesy of EOS

It appears that the gap between Rapid Prototyping and final production is shrinking even further, as EOS introduces the latest addition to their range of DMLS machines.The worlds largest SLS machine manufacturer hasunveiled the latest in the evolution of their DMLS systems. The latest addition to the product range sees the conversion of the DMLS system into full-fledged production tools for economical, batch-size, optimized manufacture of parts at all stages from prototyping through to finished product. 

The M280 builds on the capabilities of the EOSINT M270 (currently the leading system on the market for additive layer manufacturing of metal components) and can build fully functional parts in a wide range of materials, with standardisation and quality assurance capabilities on a par with those of traditional manufacturing processes.

We wonder if mass customisation of end products is even closer at hand than we had originally thought.