Additive Manufacturing Compliments Injection Molding
In recent years Additive Manufacturing (AM) has won attention in a number of industries due to the certification of AM processes and materials as viable substitutes, and in some instances, the preferred choice for an ever-expanding range of end-use functional applications. This recognition is propelling AM from one-off prototype form-fit-function uses to production components in demanding applications with volumes in the millions per year.
Xcentric is in the business of providing time critical manufacturing services that address the different phases of our customers’ product launch cycles. Historically our focus has been on injection molded thermoplastic components, however as our customers’ requirements change and manufacturing technologies advance, XME has evolved to continue to offer the desired outcome using the best available approach. Because we have expertise in both injection molding and additive manufacturing we are able to propose the best approach for each phase of our customers’ projects.
3D Printing in the product development cycle
3D Printing is typically the appropriate technology when a physical representation of a component design is needed immediately in low volumes where accuracy, surface finish, and material properties are not of primary concern. Defined in this way, the application space for 3D Printing includes a wide range of directly printed polymers and metals and an even broader range of materials via intermediate processes such as thermoforming and sand casting. However an increasing number of companies are validating 3D Printed materials for end-use applications, and industrial grade 3D Printers are becoming fast enough to produce small components in higher volumes.
Xcentric has perfected the art of producing injection molded components in extremely short timelines, making the decision between additive manufacturing and injection molding predominantly a matter of component cost, surface finish, accuracy, material properties, and productivity. Once molds are produced and set up to run, typically in 5-10 business days, injection molding is extremely efficient and cost effective compared to 3D Printing, and yields parts made in any commercially available thermoplastic material. Where 3D Printed components are produced in hours and tens of dollars per part, injection molding requires minutes and dollars (or less) per equivalent part in validated materials.
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