Solid Concepts has manufactured a 3D printed metal gun using a laser sintering process and powdered metals. The gun, a 1911 classic design, functions beautifully and has already handled 50 rounds of successful firing. It is composed of 33 17-4 Stainless Steel and Inconel 625 components, and decked with a Selective Laser Sintered (SLS) carbon-fiber filled nylon hand grip. The successful production and functionality of the 1911 3D printed metal gun proves the viability of 3D Printing for commercial applications.
“We’re proving this is possible, the technology is at a place now where we can manufacture a gun with 3D Metal Printing,” says Kent Firestone, Vice President of Additive Manufacturing at Solid Concepts. “And we’re doing this legally. In fact, as far as we know, we’re the only 3D Printing Service Provider with a Federal Firearms License (FFL). Now, if a qualifying customer needs a unique gun part in five days, we can deliver.”
The metal laser sintering process Solid Concepts used to manufacture the 30+ gun components is one of the most accurate additive manufacturing processes available, and more than accurate enough to build the interchangeable and interfacing parts within the 1911 series gun. The gun proves the tight tolerances laser sintering can meet. Plus, 3D Printed Metal has less porosity issues than an investment cast part and better complexities than a machined part. The 3D Printed gun barrel sees chamber pressures above 20,000 psi every time it is fired. Solid Concepts chose to build the 1911 because the design is public domain.
“The whole concept of using a laser sintering process to 3D Print a metal gun revolves around proving the reliability, accuracy and usability of metal 3D Printing as functional prototypes and end use products,” says Firestone. “It’s a common misconception that 3D Printing isn’t accurate or strong enough, and we’re working to change people’s perspective.”
The 3D Printed metal gun proves that 3D Printing isn’t just making trinkets and Yoda heads. The gun manufactured by Solid Concepts debunks the idea that 3D Printing isn’t a viable solution or isn’t ready for mainstream manufacturing. With the right materials and a company that knows how to best program and maintain their machines, 3D printing is accurate, powerful and here to stay.
For more information, visit: www.solidconcepts.com
Mission Motors was born when three engineers got together to create the world's highest performance electric motorcycles. Forrest North, Edward West, and Mason Cabot first built an electric motorcycle prototype from a converted Ducati motorcycle, which proved the team's claims that electric motorcycles were both viable and exciting. Every rider who got on the bike was enthusiastic, saying it was unlike anything they had ever ridden. Work toward the second prototype began soon after. In order to create a truly high-performance electric motorcycle, the growing team had to develop their own electric powertrain, as off-the-shelf offerings were not equal to the task.
According to Edward West, green is hot. “We recognized that electric motorcycle racing was at the intersection of motorsports and green technology, and we wanted to be there first.” The second prototype evolved into the Mission One Premier Limited Edition, one of the highest performing electric vehicles in the world, with an AMA record-setting top speed of 150 mph and a range of 150 miles on a single charge.
“The ability to produce prototype parts through rapid manufacturing is a revelation to us. It enables us to create parts that we know will fit together, with extremely rapid design cycles. In this fast-paced industry, there is no substitute for rapid prototype iterations. Cutting out the long lead times for production tooling for injection molding or CNC machining enables us to focus on core technology development,” West said.
When it comes to creating rapid manufactured components for their all-new racing motorcycle, Mission relies on Solid Concepts Inc. The front sub-frame and dashboard was created as a single part made out of SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) glass-filled nylon. “The dash had several really complex design elements that would have been almost impossible to replicate through any other method of production, including machining the part out of metal or plastic,” West said. The component is used on the final bike, as a fully functional SLS component. It was delivered with all the attachment features from the original drawing and “within days of releasing the CAD file, we received the sub-frame in the mail, and it fit perfectly.”
The component was designed in solid modeling CAD software, and went through several iterations before the engineers at Mission Motors were satisfied with the design. The CAD data was then ported into an STL file for use with Solid Concepts’ SLS system. The final software design was the one that was produced. The part was put through Solid Concept’s ColorTek process to color the SLS part black. No additional finishing work was required when the part was delivered to the Mission Motors team. The part was also delivered with threaded brass inserts already in place so that it could be dropped right in. Edward responded by saying, “This is how far the available technology has come. We’re making high precision parts, one-off, for the final bike. In fact, what we designed was more than just the dash, it was the whole front sub-frame, which holds up the LCD dash display, the data acquisition unit, and is a mount for the front fairing used to reduce drag.”
Mission Motors has learned to rely on Solid Concepts for more than just production parts for their high-performance motorcycles. The engineers also take advantage of other services the company offers, including creating prototypes for fit, form, and functional analysis as well as for creating one-off prototypes used for testing and trials. Solid Concepts has become an integral part of the Mission Motors supply chain.
Moving Forward from Here
For 2011, The Mission One R race bike features an advanced electric powertrain, an integrated custom-built chassis with suspension elements and controls selected for race handling and performance, and a liquid cooled AC induction motor with 130 lb-ft of torque for speeds up to 160+ mile per hour. The motor runs at over 6500 rpm, and it takes eight revolutions of the motor for one of the rear wheel. The bike has a fixed ratio (no transmission), but there is a gear reduction as well as a chain drive employed in the system.
The advanced electric powertrain that lies at the core of the Mission One motorcycle pushes the boundaries of electric vehicle technology to achieve higher density, higher performance, and greater control. This technology has also found an OEM vehicle market eager to electrify their vehicle offerings. Because of this Mission began creating electric powertrain systems and components for OEM applications. The company launched the Mission Electric Performance Technology (MissionEVT), a division of the company dedicated to creating software, components, and integrated electric drive systems for OEM applications.
What are the architectural implications for the future of organic structures? That’s a question that Sunil Kumar has considered for some time now. It’s a long ranging concern that he’s been researching not through the weight of his school’s assignments, but on his own. “I’m curious about understanding and experimenting with complex geometries that border on the organic, while still offering structural integrity,” Sunil said.
To proceed on his ideas, Sunil produced some designs using Rhino, then tried to expand on those designs using 3D max. “Originally, I was interested in increasing my knowledge of a different software system,” he said. “What I realized though was how difficult it is to maintain the integrity of a complex structure in some programs. Especially structures like my Twisted Tower design.”
Maintaining the integrity in CAD is one thing, but producing an actual model is another. Sunil realized that he’d need to produce a prototype to really see how the structure worked out. For example, was he sure that all connections were accurate, or that they provided the proper thickness. He also wanted to investigate outside sources for his designs. The school has its own rapid prototyping equipment, but there are many other pieces of equipment to work with, and many other services available. He ran across ZoomRP on the Internet. The company offers the lowest costs and the fastest turnaround in the industry.
“I contacted ZoomRP to try out one of my first 3D max designs,” Sunil said. “I thought I had all the geometry straightened out but wanted some solid proof. The software appeared to make the geometry fairly straight forward, although it took some work going over it to be sure.”
The final product was uploaded to the ZoomRP website to go through the fabrication process then overnight delivery. Sunil had no plans or need for post prep work like sanding or painting because the whole idea was to see how well the structure could be produced the first time out.
According to Sunil, ZoomRP worked out extremely well overall for the trial. The accuracy of the SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) white prototype allowed even the most fragile sections to turn out well. “Some areas were a little on the thin side, but that was due to the geometries put into 3D max,” he said. The structure did prove to be very strong, which is what he was looking for. “The CAD geometry needs to be tightened up, but I have to do that myself,” he said.
SLS is an additive rapid manufacturing process that builds 3D parts by using a laser to fuse a powdered material. Once a CAD file is uploaded to the ZoomRP site it is mathematically sliced into 2D cross-sections. The part is then built layer-by-layer until it is complete. These parts can be created from a range of powder materials, including Nylon-11 and Nylon-12 polyamides, or nylons with fillers such as glass beads, aramid or carbon fibers, and metals such as tool steel, stainless steel, and cobalt chromoloy, as well as other alloys.
The strength of the material, as well as the accuracy of the SLS machine allows complex structures to be tested for their strength and functionality. SLS prototyping and manufacturing equipment can be used for shapes that are too complex for machining. Internally complicated structures can easily be built using additive technologies where other methods cannot compete.
Sunil plans to continue his research on producing a cleaner CAD file to eliminate some of the thin areas, and plans to produce other prototypes in the future.
For more information, visit: www.zoomrp.com
Racing can be a very personal event, especially when you do it for fun. And that’s what Club Racing is all about. The riders who race at Willow Springs International Raceway (Rosamond, CA) have a once-a-month (for eleven months) opportunity to race. The race track is over fifty years old, and is a challenging 2.5 miles long. According to Donnie Belansky, “There can be anywhere from five to fifteen motorcycles racing in his class at a time over a weekend.
Donnie races in the Formula Twin Heavyweight class on his Aprilia Mille R, 1000 V-Twin 2002 motorcycle. “I’m racing an old bike against a lot of newer bikes out there,” he explains. Nonetheless, Donnie came in Second Place at this past year’s Championship Races. And this, after missing two of the meets. “I have the heaviest bike out there,” he said, “so I have to make up time with high corner speeds.”
To help inch his speeds up, Donnie has begun to lighten his bike a little at a time. He has swapped out some components for standard plastic parts he’s been able to find, but now he’s begun to change out some of the components using fabricated components from Solid Concepts, Inc. (Valencia, CA).
The first thing Donnie replaced was the bottom belly pan. He replaced the pan with a part that was manufactured using a fiberglass layup process by Solid Concepts. This is a process where sheets of fiberglass are skillfully cut and laminated with proprietary epoxies. Panels are created from a one-sided layup tool where the A side geometry is accurately reproduced. The back, or B side, of the geometry often requires brackets, hinges, boss clusters, and/or other hardware. The use of proprietary fixtures allows Solid Concepts to precision locate B-side hardware, providing a much tighter fitting assembly with consistent and level reveals.
The fiberglass panels have exceptional surface finish, ideal for single sided cosmetic purposes. Additionally, the process allows for faster production of large parts when compared to the pricier alternative, RIM (Reaction Injection Molding). Although typical application for this process includes large cosmetic prototype panels for automotive, agricultural, construction and medical industries, the 2009 introduction of UL 94 V0 Fire retardant materials has enticed other industries, like motorsports, to turn to fiberglass. The components created are light and very tough.
“Using the fiberglass process to provide the belly pan took about 3.25 pounds off the bike. The next item Donnie plans to replace using Solid Concepts’ Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) process is the air box system. Then, he plans to modify the tail section using either Fused Deposition Modeling or SLS. This will take even more weight off the bike, which will help Donnie increase his corner speeds from his already 150 mph plus speeds.
Rather than spending additional time and energy performing post processing for the parts, Donnie depends on another of his sponsors, one11inc, who provides body wraps for all the new parts. Other sponsors include Silkolene Oil, and Bill Belansky, Donnie’s brother, at PCEC Racing.
Due to the combination of high corner speeds and a lighter-weight bike, Donnie has been able to compete with newer and lighter motorcycles and still hold his own.
For more information, visit: www.SolidConcepts.com
Midwest Composite Technologies (Hartland, WI) is a full service manufacturer. With an in-house design team they provide CAD services for concept creation and review, as well as rapid prototypes for form and function, molds and prototypes for complex structures, and low volume production and sub-assembly operations. According to Helmut Keidl, CEO of MCT, “We consider Midwest as our customers’ partner in the concept through product stage.”
As the company began to grow in business, Helmut was cautious with his finances and looked for ways to decrease his internal processes. To maintain reasonable costs, he discovered and began using SolidView Viewing Software from Solid Concepts, Inc. (Valencia, CA). “I bought my first seat when SolidView appeared on the market,” Helmut said. “The cost was a fraction of what it costs to buy another CAD seat.”
As workloads increased, MCT added more CAD designers and now have three seats of Pro/E, one of Unigraphics, and one of SolidWorks. Helmut also owns six seats of SolidView. “We use CAD information a lot here. If I had to buy a new seat of CAD every time another person needed data, it would drive my engineering costs beyond what would be acceptable in the market,” Helmut said.
Using SolidView for those who only need certain CAD functions, budgets were stretched and those who needed the data along the concept through product phases could have it. Customers upload a file in its native program and SolidView pulls it on screen for real-time rendering of the component. The software also has the ability to rotate, obtain volumes, dimensions, and measurements, as well as add comments with ease. “I particularly use SolidView for writing proposals. Since the software allows me to add notes and markups to an existing SFX file, it’s easy to communicate design intent or to highlight changes or errors. I also print a copy of the part out, with all my notes, and put it with the final proposal,” Helmut said.
SolidView/Pro offers users an exclusive publishing capability. This allows the user to send the company’s free version, SolidView/Lite, along with the design. The Lite version provides rendering, reads Solid File eXchange (SFX) files, provides 3D dimensioning of SFX data, and supports STL, SolidWorks, VRML, and OBJ CAD files. By passing the Lite version along, the recipient can view and measure the altered design without having to purchase any software whatsoever. SolidView/Pro provides the added capability of cross-section display with measurements, too.
SolidView/Pro is a highly useable package for any company, and offers a number of key features like real-time rendering without hardware acceleration on all Windows programs from Windows 95 forward. It also offers advanced OpenGL rendering, and support for STL, SolidWorks, VRML, DWG, DXF, and OBJ CAD files (as well as popular 2D vector and raster formats). For advanced design collaboration the software provides translate, scale, rotate, mirror, copy and combine 3D data, and assembly-viewing tools. Tools for 3D dimensioning of edges, faces, arcs, points, objects, and assemblies helps with writing proposals for complex jobs. SolidView/Pro also provides flexible, multi-level security and 2D and 3D Web publishing and viewing. Optional interfaces are available for Pro/E, CATIA, Unigraphics, IGES, ACIS, STEP, Parasolid, SolidEdge, SW Geometry, SDRC Web Acces, and BridgeWorks.
MCT provides seats of SolidView to other departments in the company so that other employees not necessarily involved in the design aspects of the parts can easily identify a component visually and not just through a drawing or part number. This has not only helped to make processes move more rapidly, but has eliminated unnecessary mistakes as well.
“SolidView is a great communications tool. I consider it a 3D power point that I can use to explain designs, but can also pass along for specific measurements that might lead to design suggestions,” Helmut said. The company also uses multiple versions of the SolidView/Lite, the free version of the software that only allows viewing. “What’s so neat about their software is that they’ll let anyone download it. Even someone who isn’t used to design software in general, like marketing departments, can use the free version and actually see what we’re up to.” MCT uses SolidView for all its rapid prototyping jobs, as well.
SolidView, a supplier of 3D CAD communication and collaboration software, recently released SolidView 2012 software. The software family of products includes SolidView, SolidView/Pro, SolidView/Pro RP, and SolidView/Lite a free viewer.
SolidView software is a low-cost solution that allows non-CAD users to easily open, measure, and review CAD data. SolidView 2012 improves quality and reliability while incorporating a number of new elements. Some new features to SolidView 2012 include faster file loading and support, a quick measure tool, ability to save as Polygon File Format (PLY), and updated CAD interface support.
4 different versions of our SolidView Software are currently offered and supported. Each version enables users to perform some very basic functions with STL and SVD (SolidView) file formats. While our free Lite version can get your design to basic production, our base version gives you the ability to Measure, Translate, Scale, Rotate, Mirror and Combine your 3D files. Just one step up with our Pro Version will let you add compatibility with so many more file types. For the ultimate control over your 3D files, get SolidView/Pro RP. It empowers you with advanced editing like Cut, Shell and Repair.
For more information, visit: www.solidview.com
Ammunition™ is a design company that “is dedicated to bringing experiences that matter to market.” By this, the founders are suggesting that they bring their passion, work, and experience to the table when they design products, services, and brands in order to form a lasting emotional connection with users. Many of their products are for consumers, so design is very important.
As a design house, competitions become fun projects that allow for the team to stretch their capabilities. That’s why Gregoire Vandenbussche, Industrial Designer at Ammunition, was glad to be one of the designers to help create a custom skate board. Since there is only expected to be one end product – no production runs – the company took the challenge by doing everything from concept through manufacturing. The most interesting parts the company needed a prototype for was the jet engine turbine – not something you’d normally find on a skateboard.
“We selected ZoomRP as the fastest way for us to get our final parts quickly. We have an FDM machine in-house, but the contest deadline was too short and we couldn’t use it,” Gregoire said. The company ordered an SLA (stereolithography) part that came the next day.
The SLA process is primarily used for concept models, masters, and patterns. Stereolithography is one of the most accurate and precise of the rapid prototyping technologies. ZoomRP has the capacity and expertise to meet the most demanding delivery schedules. Prototypes can be generated in a matter of hours when starting with CAD geometry presented in an STL file format.
Ammunition took it upon themselves to handle the secondary finishing functions. After delivery, the SLA white material was sanded in-house to a smooth finish. Once the part was ready Ammunition engineers primed, painted, and covered the model with a clear coat. “The overall accuracy was very good, and the sanding just made it smooth and easy to paint over.”
According to Gregoire, the major advantages gained from dealing with ZoomRP had to do with the ease of use of their website. Quotes are delivered real-time, turnaround for completed parts is the fastest in the industry, the packaging was excellent, and the cost was reasonable. “We had only two days to produce the part,” Gregoire said, “and my co-worker had already used ZoomRP with great results.”
Ease of use is an important part of what ZoomRP.com is concerned with. By providing an easy method to transfer design parameters through their website, Ammunition Group’s upload went smoothly, and the project was finished before the deadline.
For more information, visit: www.ZoomRP.com or www.ammunitiongroup.com
Z-Corp Color 3D Prints will add additional robustness to the lower end of Solid Concepts’ technology spectrum. This 3D printing technology will be available with the bright white zp150-Z-Bond material.
Z-Corp Color 3D printing is a cost effective solution for projects that do not require high accuracy or strength. By using a 4 color printing technology, color is printed directly into the parts during the build process, eliminating the need for paint during post-processing. Color can be printed into the part directly from 3D CAD files that support color mesh, such as VRML, PLY, 3DS and ZPR. Z-Corp Color 3D Prints are frequently used for basic appearance models, figurines, architectural models, student projects, and space studies due to their aesthetic appearance and fast turn-around time.
For more information, visit: www.solidconcepts.com/z-corp-3d-color-prints.html