3D printing customer's part

Recently, Matrix purchased a 3D printer for our mold design & engineering department. One main reason we did this was to offer in-house rapid prototyping services to our customers, 70% of whom are medical device OEM’s who rely on us to help bring their cutting-edge products from concept to reality. Being able to take their data model and provide them with physical part samples they can hold in their hand is a value-added service that is especially helpful during the R&D phase of a new project.

The majority of our work is in developing and producing complex components, so we needed a unit that would be capable of printing the high-quality, finely detailed models we work with every day. We selected the Objet30 which features a range of 5 printing materials, varying in physical and mechanical properties (strength and flexibility), and available in a choice of 4 colors. With this new capability, our designers can test out customers’ concepts before time and money are invested in production tooling.

But there is another significant benefit to having this additive technology under our roof.

Matrix is very fortunate to have a group of very creative people working here, in many areas and levels of the company. Those people will use a tool like this to experiment and develop unique ways of making things. With their talent and this technology, the possibilities are endless and exciting!

 

 

 

 

Recently, Matrix purchased an Objet30 3D printer for our mold design & engineering department.  The majority of our work is in developing and producing complex medical components. 70% of our customers are medical device OEM’s who rely on us to help bring their cutting-edge products from concept to reality, and the R&D phase is an especially critical time for them.  We chose the Objet30 because of its capability to print the kind of high-quality, finely detailed models we work with every day. A picture is worth a thousand words, but holding a sample part in your hand puts a picture to shame.

This printer’s rapid prototyping capability allows us to offer our customers yet another value-added service.  Our designers can test out their concepts before time and money are invested in production tooling.  But another benefit of having this additive manufacturing technology in-house is that it gives our employees on the floor the opportunity to experiment with ideas of how to make things better, faster and more economically.

The Objet30 model features an extra-wide build tray of 300 x 200 x 150mm with a net-build size of 294 x 192.7 x 148.6 mm and a layer thickness of 0.0011 in.  A range of 5 printing materials, varying in physical and mechanical properties (strength and flexibility), are available in a choice of 4 colors.

 

Product designers/inventors can spend countless hours developing their concepts without fully understanding the manufacturing process that goes into mass producing their parts in the most cost-effective manner. Matrix Tooling, Inc. & Matrix Plastic Products excels at consulting with our customers, from Fortune 100 companies to individuals with breakthrough ideas, to provide manufacturing insight during their product design stages. Sometimes we begin with nothing more than a simple sketch concept of a part. Often, there can be multiple ways of getting from that initial concept to the finished product; our job is to explain those options to our customer and help them select the one best suited to their application.

Several factors can impact the ability to design & build a functioning tool that will efficiently produce a plastic part. Something that might seem like a simple feature might actually involve complicated tooling mechanics to achieve in the molding process. As the custom manufacturer, it is our responsibility to point out the most economical way to accomplish this. So when customers share the mechanical requirements and intended use of their product with us before the part design is frozen, it allows for some discussion of which features are set in stone and which may offer some flexibility. This makes it possible for us to pinpoint suggestions that may significantly impact tooling and/or production costs.

Take snaps for example. Snaps can be achieved by various means. Coring an opening through the part, allowing for the removal of the trapped plastic, is the least expensive option. Depending upon the application, this may be a perfectly acceptable choice. However, if this is not desirable from an aesthetic standpoint, snaps can also be achieved mechanically using lifters or slides, which add more expense and require more labor (as well as more mold maintenance down the road in production.) Both tooling methods will create the snap, but ultimately the customer’s needs and budget will determine which route we take in designing the mold.

During this critical stage – before significant investments of time and money have been made - is the time to consider the many options that affect the function, lead time and cost of tooling: gating location, parting line location, draft, processing behavior of the selected resin, just to name a few. Involving Matrix at this point is a win-win because it ensures the most efficient use of both parties’ available resources: we help confirm that the part design is within an acceptable range of manufacturability, which helps our customers avoid misunderstandings and costly re-designs down the road.

Written by:
Tom Ziegenhorn
Design Engineer