ADM Industries

3D PRINTING

3D printing, specifically the Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) process (sometimes referred to as Plastic Jet Printing (PJP)), piqued our interest at ADM Industries a number of years ago for its potential usefulness for in-house applications. Upon researching the 3D Printing arena, we found that the FFF process was the most promising for industrial use--as its benefits include high part strength, standard industrial materials such as ABS and nylon, and cost efficiency. We suspected we could utilize this process to make improved chutes for our stamping tools, functional mounting brackets, custom fixtures / gauges, etc. We have since used our in-house 3D printers for all of these applications and more numerous times over. It was our interest in 3D printing's applications for our own internal use that initially fueled our success with the process--success which we now share with our customers by providing them with the numerous applications that the FFF process has to offer, such as:.

  • Prototypes
  • Custom One-off Parts
  • Short Run Production Parts
  • Aesthetic or Functional Parts
  • Replacement Parts
  • Investment Castings
  • Fixtures / Gauges for Inspection, Machining, etc.
  • Custom Packaging Solutions
  • Brackets / Chutes

We also bring our company's focus on quality and customer value to the 3D printing arena. We will work extensively with customers to aid in improving their parts' printability and printing quality, and will aid in selecting the optimum FFF material for their application--for a material list, see our FFF Material section. We will even work with customers to convert their existing plastic part designs to designs which will work with the FFF 3D printing process. We highly encourage companies to contact us if they have a difficult or technically challenging plastic part--designed for 3D printing or otherwise--or even an existing metal part that they believe could be replaced with the right plastic part design. We specialize in working with customers on "impossible" projects that others may dismiss out of hand.

 

● APPLICATIONS

We have found that the FFF process is very versatile, allowing for a broad range of viable applications--from one-off parts to production parts, aesthetic parts to functional parts, prototypes to end-use products. We encourage customers who are not sure if their application is a good fit for the FFF process to contact us. We typically can quickly determine if a project is applicable to the FFF process or not. Some of the major applications of 3D printing with the FFF process are:.

Plastic Parts with complex features
Parts with complex features lend themselves very well to 3D printing. Many times, making these parts with traditional methods would be difficult, impractical, or impossible. The nature of the FFF process is such that complexity in parts does not translate to increased manufacturing time. A part with many complex features takes far longer to machine than one which has very simple features--all other factors being equal, but with 3D printing the complex part takes no more time to print than the simple part. For the FFF process, complexity has little to no impact on manufacturing time. This makes 3D printing complex parts extremely viable, and occasionally even warrants the merging of parts in an assembly into a single or a few highly complex 3D printed parts--which take no more time to print than simple 3D printed parts.

One-offs, Prototypes, or Low Volume Production Parts
Because 3D printing parts with the FFF process does not require specialized tooling or fixtures, having one or a handful of parts made has close to the same unit cost of having thousands of parts made--this is far different than with traditional methods of manufacturing plastic parts. Typically, to have a few plastic parts made, you must pay for machining fixtures and tooling or an entire injection mold. These upfront costs from machining or injection molding typically dwarf the cost of actually manufacturing the handful of parts. With the FFF 3D printing process, there is no tooling cost or cost of fixtures. When you order one or a handful of custom parts, you only pay for the cost to actually manufacture the parts. This makes low volume production parts extremely viable for 3D printing, and the advantage that the FFF process has over other 3D printing methods is that the FFF process typically results in a much sturdier part--even to the point of being as strong as an injection molded part. This allows the customer to get extremely cost effective, but functional prototypes or low volume production parts.

Medium Volume Production Parts
Though the highest volume production jobs are still best done by injection molding or machining (except in the case where the part can only be made with 3D printing), medium volume production parts are sometimes viable for the FFF 3D printing process. Because of the ever increasing number of material options open to the FFF process, 3D printing can now service a wide range of functional, end-use applications. Coupling this fact with ADM Industries' experience with high volume stamping projects results in the viability of production volume 3D printed plastic parts using the FFF process. Request a free quote if you are unsure if your plastic part is a good fit for a production FFF project. Medium volume production projects are especially applicable to the FFF 3D printing process when the customer is ramping up volume on orders of a plastic part, but doesn't yet want to pull the trigger on buying an expensive injection mold. Because the FFF 3D printing process requires no specialized tooling, it can fill the gap until the customer feels comfortable enough with the project to pay for an injection mold, or the volume increases to the point where an injection mold is the efficient route to take.

Custom Packaging Solutions
As discussed above, because complexity does not add to the cost of manufacturing 3D printed parts, custom plastic parts are very viable. We have found that we use our 3D printing capabilities in-house for custom packaging solutions as much as anything else. The FFF process lends itself very well to complex, custom-fit packaging trays for tricky parts. Custom short run box dividers (partitions) are a great application for the FFF 3D printing process. We use both of these applications in-house, and offer design services to help customers obtain custom packaging solutions for their difficult packaging issues as well.

Other applications of the FFF 3D printing process are, but not limited to:

  • Replacement Parts
  • Investment Castings
  • Fixtures / Gauges for inspection, machining, etc.
  • Functional Brackets / Chutes

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● PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE

We at ADM Industries take pride in bringing value to the customer; not only in part quality, timely delivery, and competitive pricing; but also in product development assistance. We focus on aiding customers on difficult projects and on technically challenging parts in both of the following categories: plastic parts designed for FFF 3D printing and plastic (or non-plastic) parts designed for other manufacturing processes which can be converted to FFF 3D printed plastic parts.

Parts designed for Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) 3D printing
Whether the customer has a solid model, .stl file (native 3D printing file format), or a part print, ADM Industries is well-equipped to 3D print your plastic parts designed for FFF. Many times, even on a part designed for FFF 3D printing, our experienced engineers can suggest slight tweaks to the design, or suggest a different FFF material that will improve the quality, manufacturability (printability), and / or cost efficiency of your 3D printed parts. We strive to not only provide the customer with quality parts on time and at an economical price, but also to go above and beyond to continually improve upon our production 3D printed part projects so that we can continually add value to our customers. Request a free quote now if you are looking for a new supplier of your 3D printed parts, have a new part project for 3D printing, or are interested in the cost savings or quality improvements that we excel at delivering on 3D printed parts..

Converting a part design to one manufacturable with Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) 3D printing
Our experienced engineers can often determine a way to convert an existing part design to one manufacturable with the FFF 3D printing process that we use. We specialize in converting plastic parts designed for machining, short run plastic (or sometimes metal) parts, or parts designed for injection molding but whose volume isn't large enough yet to justify an expensive injection mold. We will work with the customer, making suggestions on the part design and the material selection, to achieve a part that is printable with the FFF process and meets the customer's part requirements. If a customer's part is too large for our 3D printers' build capacity (currently at 11.7in x 10.8in x 9.8in), our designers can split the model in printable sections that are designed to fit together after printing. These can then be snapped or glued together. We have had success with both of these methods, allowing us to make 3D printed parts with the FFF method larger than the typical FFF parts.

Our experience with the solid modeling program Solidworks allows us to convert most any solid model file extensions to 3D printing file formats, and also to create solid models from part prints. We then use the 3D printing software Simplify3D to create our 3D printing .gcode. Simplify3D is a leader in the 3D printing software industry. Our 3D printers themselves are among the best FFF 3D printers available. Furthermore, through our network of FFF 3D printer manufacturers and FFF material venders and manufacturers, we have the ability to pinpoint the perfect FFF material selection for customers' applications. And because our other departments of metal stamping and machining here at ADM Industries, we have access to equipment that allows us to do in-house secondary operations on our FFF 3D printed parts such as machining, tapping, and surface finishing. Through the combination of advanced software, industry leading hardware, engineering expertise, machining and industrial equipment, and our network of venders, ADM Industries brings the utmost of product development assistance and part quality to the customer in the realm of Fused Filament Fabrication 3D printing.

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● SECONDARY PROCESSES

There are times when it is appropriate to add secondary processes to an FFF 3D printed part. ADM Industries is in a unique position to have access to many of the needed secondary processes for 3D printing in-house because we are primarily a metal stamping company and have an in-house machine shop. We are set up to do in-house secondary machining, vibratory and barrel tumbling, and tapping on 3D printed parts, which is something quite unique to 3D printing service centers. Along with machining, tumbling, and tapping, we also offer sanding to obtain better finishes on part surfaces. We also plan to add dyeing to our available secondary processes, allowing an even broader range of color options on printed parts.

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● MATERIALS

Material selection can make all the difference on an FFF part. We have developed a wide base of materials that we currently support in our 3D printing, but there are even more materials available on the market for use on FFF machines. We take pride in specializing in unique and varied material options in our 3D printing division, as in our stamping division. If a customer's application requires a new material that is available, but not currently used by us at ADM Industries, we will typically just use that project as a reason to start supporting said new material. We use our network of material venders to help in determining the appropriate material choice for each application to ensure customers get the best quality out of their FFF parts. Because an advantage of the FFF process is its wide array of materials, there are many parts that can be printed out of the exact material specified by the customer--such as ABS or nylon. But if the desired material is not currently available for FFF 3D printers, ADM Industries will recommend the best alternate material for the customer to allow for 3D printing of the customer's part.

FFF Materials we currently support:

  • ABS
  • Alloy 910 from Taulman - extremely high strength alloy plastic developed for FFF process
  • Bronzefill - composite bronze with PLA that has similar weight to bronze and looks like bronze when polished
  • HIPS (High Impact Polystyrene)
  • Igus Iglidur I180-PF - high abrasion resistance and extremely low friction induced (self-lubricating bearing material)
  • Laybrick
  • Laywood - composite filament that uses actual wood fibers, has the appearance and texture of wood
  • Makerbot Flex - Moldable material at relatively low temperatures
  • n-vent - food-grade safe, developed for FFF 3D printing process
  • Nylon, multiple grades
  • PCTPE
  • PLA - industry standard for FFF 3D printing: cheap with high tensile strength and various color options
  • Polycarbonate
  • PVA - dissolvable in water
  • Stainless Steel PLA - composite stainless steel with PLA has similar weight to steel and looks like steel when polished
  • t-glase - optical qualities that alloy for printing transparent parts

 

FFF Materials in development:

  • Conductive PLA
  • Delrin
  • Magnetic Iron PLA
  • NinjaFlex - Flexible material
  • NinjaFlex TPE
  • PC-ABS Alloy
  • SemiFlex - Semi Flexible material