3d printing sheffield

3D Printing is rapidly evolving many industries across the world and one of the most notable examples is the medium’s contribution to the medical industry. 3D printed prosthetics are just one of the many ways in which 3D printing has aided the industry. With children, in particular, seeing the benefits of this production method, we have rounded up some of the advantages of 3D printing a prosthetic limb.

Cost

A traditional prosthetic can be expensive and often leaves those in need worried about the cost. However, 3D printing provides an affordable alternative. As the CAD design work can be easily altered and 3D printing is a low-cost production method, they offer many a practical alternative to bionic hands.

Speed

3D printed prosthetics can be made quickly, especially in comparison to the traditional alternatives. Once the design has been tried and tested, it is likely that prosthetic limbs can be 3D printed within a day. Traditional prosthetics can take weeks or even months to produce, and this is without the medical waiting lists that many have to sit through.

Versatility

With 3D printing, prosthetics can be made to meet their individual needs and preferences. Whether you would prefer a simple customised colour or you need your 3D printed prosthetic to function in a specific way, CAD and 3D Printing allow you to create a design that meets specific requirements and that can be easily customised.

Alongside this, 3D printers are becoming compatible with more materials every day, including lightweight titanium for increased durability. With this in mind, the future of 3D printed prosthetics is incredibly exciting.

Growth

The average lifespan of a traditional prosthetic is around 5 years, however, with the rate in which children grow this means that they require replacement prosthetics much more frequently. Taking cost into consideration, this could put a huge burden on families. However, with the ease of production and reduced cost, reproducing a 3D printed prosthetic is less of a problem.

Comfort

Regular prosthetics are not always the most comfortable for their wearers, with 100% of amputees claiming to have experienced discomfort. 3D printing aims to provide the ultimate solution. Using CAD services and the anatomical data of the wearer, designers are able to create a socket for the prosthetic that fits perfectly. Prosthetics will also become more comfortable by using multi-material 3D printing methods to create more natural sockets that better interface with the human body.

To see our latest work with 3D printed prosthetics, check out our latest case study. For more information about how we can help you and the range of services that we offer, give us a call on 0333 335 0150 and our team will be happy to chat to you about everything from 3D printing to 3D printer repairs.

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3D printing, resin printing, 3d printing service

A faulty prototype can cost a designer significantly in both time and money. Even the smallest of changes within a mould or production method could prove costly. One of the biggest advantages of using 3D printing to create your model or prototype is that it can save you a huge amount of money when it comes to tooling costs.

Tooling refers to the process of designing and engineering the tools that are necessary to manufacture parts or components of your model in. Ensuring high-quality tooling can become expensive, especially considering that every design could require different tools.

3D printing can save businesses thousands in tooling costs because it simply doesn’t require any. This manufacturing process requires no moulds or specific tools, instead, you only need the most generic ones that can be used over and over again.

In 3D printing, components are constructed one layer at a time. Due to this, design requirements such as draft angles, undercuts and tool access do not apply, when designing parts to be 3D printed. 

Using 3D printing also means that you can spot errors at much earlier stages in the manufacturing process before the initial investment is made. Using the latest in CAD design software, errors can be seen much more easily and multiple versions of designs can be tested at a much lower cost. An increase in prototype testing results in far fewer manufacturing errors.

Due to the layered printing process, you can see the stages of the 3D print as it comes to life. Whether a large-scale print or a detailed SLA print, if your prototype doesn’t look the way you envisioned a few layers in, you can stop the process and restart without too much cost. This means you don’t have to wait until the manufacturing process is complete to find faults with your design.

With a 3D-printed prototype, it is very easy to identify whether the model correctly reflects the specifications you require and if it doesn’t, you can change it with a simple adjustment in a drawing. This can create a new prototype quickly rather than building up an excessive and expensive set of tooling costs.

3D printing can, therefore, save businesses thousands in tooling costs and manufacturing errors next year by providing a quick and easy solution to the issue. For more information about how 3D printing can bring your designs to life and a lower cost, contact our team on 0333 335 0150. We can offer expert advice on which method of 3D printing is perfect for your project and even help with the design stages.

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3D Printing Prosthetics

Posted by Richard Martin | 3D Print

When we heard that six-year-old Charlie required a new prosthetic arm, we were more than happy to help. Although we had never tried to create a prosthetic limb before, when we heard Charlie’s story we couldn’t resist giving it a try.

Charlie’s previous prosthetic was so heavy that she to use her other arm to lift it, rendering it useless. Many children, like Charlie, dislike the weight and feel of modern prosthetics and so are turning to 3D printed alternative.

 A popular charity project which provides lightweight prosthetics had a waiting list of over 12 months whilst the NHS alternative takes up to 2 months to produce, by which time measurements can outdate and mobility may be lost.

One of Charlie’s family friends reached out to us to see if, as a 3D printing company, we could find a quicker solution. Using a lightweight design originally created by the co-designer of the world’s first 3D printed mechanical hand, the latest in 3D printing technology and CAD services, we were able to create our first ever prosthetic design.

Prosthetic limbs are no easy feat and creating one that functions brings a whole new challenge. However, 3D printing has been revolutionising aspects of medicine along with other industries and the result is a cost-effective, lightweight and functioning arm.

The RIT Arm, which we created for Charlie, is an adaptive device suitable people an arm with an elbow but no wrist. It can be activated by bending the elbow or via a cable connected to a shoulder harness.

We were able to give Charlie a choice of colours for her lightweight prosthetic and the speed of 3D printing means that she will be able to have the colours and shape of the prosthetic changed over time as she matures. Charlie is also able to wear her prosthetic over the next few weeks so that any changes can be made for her.

As this was our first prosthetics design project, the timescale took a little longer than planned. However, in the future, we hope that completion time will be at around 2 weeks, almost a quarter of the time that the NHS alternative requires.

Venturing into the world of prosthetics is incredibly exciting for us and we hope that in the future, we can help more children like Charlie. For more information about what we can achieve with 3D printing, including large-scale prints, contact our team on 0114 2211 862. If you already have a design in mind, receive a free quote and get started.

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Advantages of SLA 3D Printing

Posted by Richard Martin | 3D Print

When prototyping a new product, it is often difficult to know whether to choose between FDM or SLA 3D printing. Whilst both technologies are able to produce a quality 3D print, each has benefits and weaknesses.

FDM is the cheaper way of 3D prototyping your products. It builds up layers of melted plastic to create the final 3D print and with this method, you have a wide choice of materials and colours to create your final product from. However, where you save money you comprise quality.

3D prints made using FDM technology are constructed from the bottom up and the finest details achievable are dependant on the size of the nozzle in the printer. As it can be difficult for the printer to have complete control over the plastic once it’s molten, it can suffer from issues where it’s not able to produce highly accurate features including holes.

With SLA 3D printing technology, a UV laser is used to cure a photopolymer into the desired shape so wherever the laser hits the resin, the resin will solidify. By using a complex optical engine consisting of an array of mirrors and galvanometers, the Form 2 which is the highest rated printer we use, can produce parts with a feature accuracy of +-0.2mm along with a much smoother surface finish that can be compared much more closely to the finish of injection moulded parts.

Due to this accuracy, SLA 3D printing has become the preferred method for prototyping, product development or anatomical printing. The different types of resin used in the process allow the 3D prototypes to have different physical properties. SLA printing is also often used to create moulds that can facilitate mass production of intricate items such as jewellery.

However, the main drawback with SLA 3D printing is that it is difficult to produce large scale prints. The height of your 3D prototype can only be as large as the depth of the resin. Making SLA printing the preferred 3D printing method for intricate product development.

3D Folkes offer both SLA AND FDM 3D prints along with large-scale capabilities in the FDM category to help us to create the best prototypes of your products. We also provide CAD design services so that we can help to transform your ideas into a detailed digital design. Contact us on 0114 2211 862 to find out more about our services or if you already have a design ready receive a free quote and get started.