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Part 2: 3D Printing our Tool
In our last blog, Part 1 – Designing our Tool, we discussed the process of designing a ‘Clean Hands Handle’ that can be used to open doors, push buttons, and even open up a bottle of your favorite beverage – all without direct surface contact. As companies begin returning to their offices, safety in the workplace will become extremely important, and tricky, to maintain. In this post, we will be taking a closer look at how 3D printing brought our idea to reality while also helping DesignPoint safely return to our offices.
Why 3D Print?
3D printing this part allowed us to keep material costs and production times low, while also ensuring that the part has enough strength to withstand everyday use. To determine which material and printer to use we needed to print some test parts to see how the tool performed. We have a couple of printer options at DesignPoint which include the Markforged X7, Metal X, as well as a BigRep Studio. Below is the process we took for narrowing down which printer and which material would be best for our application.
Below you can see the various prototypes we created for this tool. The design was evaluated after each iteration because of the benefits of using 3D printing on this project. BigRep printers are especially useful for large scale production and cost effectiveness. Markforged printers specialize in strength to weight ratio and accuracy.
The very first light-colored tool in the lineup above was printed on our BigRep Studio using ProHT as the filament with a resolution set to 0.2mm for a faster print time. The rest of the parts in the image were printed on our Markforged Mark Two using Onyx as the filament. Onyx consists of nylon mixed with chopped carbon fiber. First, the handle was printed using Onyx with no reinforcement. This yielded a very low material cost of about $4, and a print time of only two hours. These parts printed well but needed more strength in order to withstand everyday use. This is when we decided to bring in some reinforcements.
Continuous Fiber for the Win
We wanted to take advantage of Markforged’s unique ability to incorporate continuous fiber with the Onyx filament for additional strength. Markforged offers four different fibers that can be strategically placed during printing: carbon fiber, fiberglass, HSHT fiberglass, and Kevlar. Below you can see the part details for printing in Onyx with continuous carbon fiber reinforcement. As expected, the material cost jumped up to about $15 and the print time increased to four hours, but the added strength was well worth the time and money invested.
The Final Print
After comparing the prototypes, we ultimately decided to print our tool using Onyx filament with continuous carbon fiber reinforcement. Although other filaments and printers produced effective parts, the capability of adding strength with continuous fiber throughout the part brought our idea to reality in the best way possible.