3D Printing Hybrid Parts

Hybrid 3D Printed Parts – Composite and Metal

Hybrid Parts, The Best of Both Worlds

Additive Manufacturing is already making an impact on the manufacturing industry and it is not slowing down any time soon. Companies like our partners over at Markforged are continuing to push the limits of 3D printing and developing new materials that were previously never even discussed in the additive manufacturing conversation. But with all this excitement around what CAN be printed, it is equally important to discuss what SHOULD be printed. There are situations where it may be more efficient to implement a project using a traditional manufacturing or the part’s application might demand more performance than 3D printing can offer alone. But…that is where hybrid parts come into play! A hybrid part leverages the strengths of both additive and traditional processes to create an efficient AND functional part.

Hybrid Part with dowel rods and threaded inserts imbedded

The Diverse World of Hybrid Components

For this post, we will be discussing a few popular applications and strategies for using common off the shelf hardware in your designs.

  1. Dowel Pin: Let us start with adding a dowel pin to a design. Dowel pins can be extremely helpful for 3D printed parts if a part is interacting with abrasive surfaces. Adding dowel pins around the outer surfaces will provide a hardened steel surface for contact and help prevent wear. Dowel pins are also very useful for aligning multiple components together. They keep your parts in place and allow for a more precise assembly.
  2. Bushings: Bushings or sleeve bearings can also help improve your 3D printed parts. They can help reinforce holes and improve its horizontal bore circularity. This is extremely helpful for holes that need to be 3D printed in the vertical planes. Due to the limitations of the additive manufacturing process, circular features 3D printed on the horizontal plane are more accurate than those in the XZ or YZ planes. However, adding a bushing can give these features a high precision. Also, the bushing will help distribute compressive loading in the 3D printed part.
  3. Threaded Features: Lastly, inserts can help achieve threaded features in 3D printed parts. Try to avoid printing threads wherever possible. 3D printed threads have a very low pullout strength and, in general, are only good for a single installation without any removal. Instead, let’s look into using one of the following alternatives!
  • Helical Inserts
    • Although helical inserts will not increase the pull-out strength very much, they will increase the wear resistance of the thread and are also very low profile keeping your design clean.
  • Nuts
    • Incorporating a hex or square nut into your design will improve the pull-out strength, torque, and is very easy to install. Designing a cavity for the nut will also avoid the need for a wrench to tighten the bolt.
  • Embedded features
    • Markforged printers allow you to pause and resume prints. This gives you the opportunity to capture hardware inside the part, reducing the risk of any stray parts and keeping your design clean. This method, however, risks a collision with the printhead and requires operator supervision for the entirety of the print.
  • Heat Set Insert
    • Using a heat set insert will improve the pullout strength the most out of all of the inserts. These inserts get pressed in with a soldering iron to reflow the plastic around the part for local isotropic strength.
Hybrid parts 3D Printed with threaded fasteners

Hybrid Parts Make 3D Printing Even More Powerful

Exploring the capabilities of hybrid parts is an extremely useful and important aspect of Design for Additive Manufacturing. It allows you to reach the fullest potential for 3D printed parts by adding the functionality and strength you need for success!

Thanks for following along and hopefully you can start using some of these tricks in future part designs! If you are interested in learning more about Markforged, additive manufacturing, or other design tips, be sure to check out our resource library!