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Metal Prototyping

Metal Prototyping

How to do metal prototyping? Manufacturers usually quote from an SLT file. This STL file may not contain surface finish, threads or tolerance information. In most cases, drawing with tolerance is required for metal prototyping. It is necessary that this is available for quotation as it will impact the process selection and cost.   

Most components are designed as CNC, casting or die casting in production. Using CNC or DMLS to prototype a part designed to be produced this way would be the obvious starting point. We have to consider the required quantities and timescales as they will have a dramatic impact on price. Casting allows the creation of certain geometries that it is very difficult to create any other way. If machining is required and the geometry is machinable, then machining the whole parts can offer cost and time benefits. DMLS is best suited to highly complex, small parts. The advantages of DMLS can be seen where multiple processes are required to tackle the geometry from another angle - for example, a die casting that would need EDM and CNC to produce. CNC machining provides the largest range of material options and the highest accuracy, but is limited by cutter reach and geometry. Sand casting or investment casting is good solutions but post machining can further increase cost, depending on whether the geometry permits a straight CNC approach.

Required quantities will affect the decision of making process. There is the upfront programming time that needs to be amortized into the number of parts when considering CNC. The higher the quantity, the more applicable a cast solution becomes, even if post machining is required. The CNC cost levels out at higher quantities as the material and machine time becomes fixed. Casting also has some fixed upfront costs that need to be addressed, but once these are taken care of, the unit price can be attractive alongside a full CNC version.

When it comes to material, flexibility is linked to the application. Most Metal Prototyping are made out of aluminum or stainless steel, however DMLS provides options -for example Cobalt Chrome, Inconel and Titanium. If the purpose is to emulate the mechanical properties of the production part then this will require that the process be matched as well.

Let us to assist your requirement and to develop the prototyping. We can make a huge difference in achieving a cost effective solution. Get in touch with TEAM Rapid at today!

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