The Power of 3D Printing


Recently I embarked on a design project for a client in New Zealand (I am in South Africa). We agreed to terms and I was sent a diagram of what I would be creating for the design. It was an enclosure for some electronics that he wanted designed.

The software I am using to create the design in is Autodesk Inventor. So the best way to start this project was to model all the internal components, to get a feel of how large the enclosure had to be. I did this with the use of bodies in the part file. Once this was done we could then get a feel for how big the enclosure would be.

Once a conceptional design was done, we then needed to look at the practical side. This is things like where we would put the holes to screw the two halves together. Any extrusions inside the enclosure would need to have a taper. This is all in preparation for the injection molding that would take place to create the design.

So once everyone was happy with the design we used 3D printing to print the design. Thank goodness we had a print done! We discovered some issues that you would have never been able to pick up just from the Inventor CAD model unless there was some thorough interrogation. The walls were a little too thin. This is because I was so involved with making the enclosure look as pretty as possible that I forgot that you actually needed a bit of wall thickness so that it didn’t wobble apart after being screwed together.

The 3D printing technology that we have today really is a game changer. Previously to have a physical prototype done you would need to create the actual mold and this would get extremely expensive and time consuming as more than one prototype would have to be created.