Next Generation in 3D

ANSYS SpaceClaim, in my opinion, is the best CAD software on the market. With four ingeniously simple editing tools: Pull, Move, Fill and Combine, you can accomplish 80-90% of your modeling needs. ANSYS SpaceClaim uses all of the Windows tools many users are familiar with such as Cut, Copy and Paste, and Undo! The ability to reuse geometry and the quick access tool bar encourages innovation as it is easy enough for any user, not just seasoned engineers. Working with complicated skeleton sketches is typical with CAD, but not ANSYS SpaceClaim.

No need to recreate sketches when you have the ability to copy geometry and save it. You can accomplish anything without affecting history tree, because there is no history tree! ANSYS SpaceClaim is so intuitive. Based on your clicks it knows exactly what you want it to do. It tends to predict what the user is attempting to do before the task is completed. In ANSYS SpaceClaim you can work entirely with solid geometry, quickly created with the Pull feature. If you pull on an edge it will automatically create a round. That round could be easily just one click of the mouse.

Pull a line into a surface and transform that surface into a solid 3D object. Pull on the region to create a 3D pin away from the entire model. Modify the pin’s geometry just by grabbing the piece pull and extend. The changes can be free-form or by typing in specific values. Try out new ideas, create revolved protrusion, or blend to make multiple surfaces. Do all of this on the fly, with no separate commands. You can easily do all of your experimentation in the pull environment.

There is so much more than pulling faces with the best CAD software! You will never again have to worry about incorrect placements of geometry when you can move it wherever you want it to go! Use the move tool to move faces in any direction, and rotate them with ease to any degree. Use move to push pieces apart creating distances between them. The move tool can even influence edges! You can even select a specific “loop” or part of the edge to edit within a radial menu on the screen. Merge two pieces of geometry together with a simple drag. Modify to make sections more symmetrical.

The fill option, also known as the “magic button”, easily deletes the things you do not want. You can put a plane down the middle to cut the entire geometry in half and create two different bodies completely independent from each other. Each solid body can then be edited by itself. Easily change the color of your components, create solid bodies on the fly-with no new sketches! With Combine any solid part can be attached to another easily. No longer want two different parts, just connect them with combine. ANSYS SpaceClaim lets you make drastic changes that other CAD systems would not allow you to do.

Be innovative and creative! ANSYS SpaceClaim can predict patterns you are attempting to create. It will return associatively to the original. ANSYS SpaceClaim is innovative, fun, and easy to use! I think it’s great, but find out for yourself! Call us here at Solid Technologies for more information.

3D Printing Goes Viral

Recently, Zcorporation’s 3D-Printing technology was featured on National Geographic.  Quite an achievement for the Boston based technology firm. The video was sent to web and instantly went viral and has to date garnered 5 million viewers and counting! David Kaplan, Theoretical Physicist at John Hopkins University, hosted the episode of National Geographic entitled: Known Universe, the spin was that 3D printing can be invaluable in space for replication.  This once seemingly a sci-fi concept that eluded scientists for decades is now possible with the Z450! Using the help of Zcorp’s Joe Titlow, a Z450 and a ZScanner, Kaplan developed a replication of a working wrench from a simple 3D scan.  Kaplan was excited by the result, insisting that this was a giant leap forward in scientific and technological achievement.  Anyone who sees this happen with their own eyes and fully understands the nature of this high end technology has the same reaction.

And since the video of this broadcast went viral, clearly the public took notice of the “wow” factor of 3D printing.  The first time I saw a 3D printer in action I had the same reaction. This technology can create anything on a whim if implemented properly. Since the success of the video many news crews including, ABC, FOX, and Boston’s Channel 5 took notice and have had exclusive access to Zcorp studios.  They too can vouch for its validity. Consequently, with any attention comes a healthy amount of skepticism. And thanks to social media there has been a recent frenzy of naysayers questioning the validity of National Geographic’s broadcast and the technology.

This past week, the video was swarmed with controversy, which can always be expected when an innovative idea enters the public eye for the first time.  This is especially true when this idea goes viral, and is accessible to millions. Social networking has allowed for debate on the issue, and most of the viewers have had a positive reaction and have left some really wonderful feedback on Zcorp’s twitter, facebook wall, and YouTube. Any negative feedback at this point seems petty, and comes across as, lets face it, ignorant.  In the end, all of this new attention to Zcorp technology just generates more discussion about the technology. People are now really talking about 3D Printing!

In my time as Marketing Coordinator and Technical Writer here at Solid Technologies*, I have seen this technology at work and I know that it is real. It is constantly being improved and developed and any issues that arise are quickly addressed by talented engineers. Those who have first hand knowledge comprehend that this technology is not a toy, but something that can be used to design, create, and innovate when the best minds have it at their disposal.  3D Printing and Scanning is currently breaking new ground in the education, architectural, construction, medical, entertainment, and design fields. I challenge anyone who believes otherwise to schedule a demonstration (888-762-8441) and let the technology speak for itself.

Casting With Zcorporation 3D Printers

Patterns machined, or made by hand, often require a trained CNC operator or skilled craftsman. If the production is outsourced, patterns can be expensive and time-consuming. With Z Corp 3D Printers users can go from a CAD design directly to a pattern quickly, inexpensively and with very little training. This process can be adopted in foundries, design centers, or pattern shops.

Direct metal casting requires an engineered pattern sent to a Zprinter for printing. This process has four stages: Data Prep, Printing, Reinforcement and Finishing.  These stages are required to produce of the strongest, most durable, long-lasting patterns possible. A 3D CAD package to export their pattern to STL is also necessary. The pattern should be “shelled out” using the STL editor of Magics RP. The result should be a 5-9 mm thick shell, strong without infiltration, yet thin enough so the epoxy infiltrant will fully penetrate through the plaster. First, import the STL file into Magics RP. Then, select the parting (Select: Tools and then Offset Part).

Another step in prepping your data is called “adding ribs”. This is an important step that provides some additional strength to the part after epoxy infiltration. Dividing the shell into sections improves the curing of the epoxy. The ribs do not have to be very thick; only 2-3 mm preferably. First, start with an STL file. Next, import the STL file of your shelled pattern into the ZPrint software. Make certain the cavity is facing down and aligns to the bottom of the build chamber.

Before you send the file to be printed, you must always check it to make sure it is complete with no gaps or errors in the geometry. When you are ready to print send your STL to the printer. Printing time depends on the model, but generally is multiple hours, plus anytime for curing. Printing patterns should be done with a plaster series powder that will provide the greatest strength potential. This will also provide the best finish and accuracy. After printing, remove the parts from the print bed, the bulk of powder and prepare to reinforce with epoxy.

The two stages of reinforcement are crucial to a completely reinforced build. First, users must infiltrate the pattern using Z-Max epoxy. Next they must backfill the pattern’s cavity with a semi-rigid epoxy. Z-Max is the best choice for a very strong, thin epoxy that can penetrate deep into a pattern. The shell requires as much impact strength as possible. The Z-Max epoxy should be applied according to its instructions for use. As a general rule of thumb, you can use 20-25% of the weight of the plaster part in Z-Max.  Make sure to not let the epoxy cure completely before going on to the next step.

Backfilling with epoxy helps solidify the pattern, and gives it a strong anchor point if the pattern is to be screwed to a match plate. Users can do this by simply propping up the pattern and filling the back with epoxy. Make certain that the cavity is filled as close to the top as possible. Once they are infiltrated with epoxy, patterns can be finished. First, sand the cured epoxy-infiltrated pattern with 100-grit sand paper by hand or using power-sanding tools. Next, sand the part until there are few pits in the surface. Finally, coat the part with surface filler making certain to fill in any remaining pits. The pattern can then be mounted to a matchplate by threaded anchors or high strength adhesive.

A 3D Printed Skateboard Infiltrated with Z Corporation Zmax 90!

Infiltration is the process of applying a liquid resin to a printed part to provide strength and specific properties. Z Corp’s latest and greatest infiltrant is the Z-Max™ 90. This new epoxy holds 3D modeling to a new standard of strength, function, and improved resistance to humidity, water and heat. The parts are so strong they can bear the weight of a full grown man as seen in the picture above!

How does Z-Max 90 compare with the original Z-Max? Z-Max 90 is a two-part resin system specifically formulated to effectively penetrate the 3D printed parts. Compatible with all Z Corp materials, Z-Max 90 costs 40% less than the original Z-Max.  Because of its lower viscosity, resin can soak into the porous surface without leaving a thick film on the surface of the part.  Z-Max 90 is easier to use. No measuring is required as kits and pumps are pre-weighed. Time applied to parts is now increased by 40%, and the cure time is still 2 hours at 160°F.

Z-Max 90 also out-performed other infiltrant in high temperature functional testing. Partsinfiltrated with Z-Max 90 offered the highest resistance to heat, proving they can withstand the high temperature environments.  This is possible becausethe matrix created by the powder structure acts as a reinforcing mesh, maintaining a models strength and rigidity.  A heat pre-treatment can also be used for the best results.

Now that you understand the benefits of Z-Max 90 over other infiltrant, learn how easy it is to use! Here are some safe tricks and tips to reach the highest performance of your part. First, always read and understand the MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheet) prior to using Z-Max.  Make certain you are wearing protective clothing; including gloves and eye protection.

Parts should be sanded prior to infiltration to enhance the look of surface finish. To sand properly, use 100-grit sandpaper and continue to 220-grit sandpaper until the desired smoothness is achieved. Dust masks should be worn when sanding finished parts. Remove any loose material before infiltrating. For best results, dry the part for 2-4 hours at 100°F (40°C). This will allow Z-Max to wick deeper into the part. Once infiltrated parts can be easily drilled, tapped, bonded, and machined.

When applying Z-Max, it is important to always have a spill system in place such as a catch pan, wax paper or a drop cloth. Mix 5 pumps of resin with 2 pumps of hardener into a sturdy plastic container thoroughly for 2 minutes before application Use a paint-brush to apply the Z-Max. Apply multiple thin coats to get maximum surface penetration depth. Do not overapply. Infiltrated parts should be placed on a non-stick surface, leaving it to cure for 2 hours or until the part is no longer sticky. Users can contact Solid Technologies Inc. for more information on safe practices, and accurate Z-Max 90 application.


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