Posts Tagged "3D"

Avoid These Common Additive Manufacturing Design Mistakes

September 12, 2013

Design News recently featured a guest blog post from a member of the Quickparts team, Jeff Cline, titled: 7 Common Mistakes in Designing Parts for Additive Manufacturing. We found this article to be very informative and educational for not only design engineers but those interested in having a product built using additive manufacturing.

3D CADThe mistakes listed below are fairly common in the design process and can lead to additional product costs and delayed production. Being aware of and avoiding these mistakes will cut down on the product development cycle and ultimately lead to a higher quality end-product and happy customer.

“Before submitting a design for any additive manufacturing project, keep an eye out for these seven common mistakes in part design and file conversion:

  1. The part design has thin features or walls, less than .03 inch for standard resolution, or .015 inch to .02 inch for high-resolution machines. Due to the layer-by-layer approach of the additive manufacturing process, anything smaller or thinner than this will often not build and won’t be present in the final model. Pay close attention to raised or recessed logos and areas of small text, knife-edge features which taper down to zero thickness, and curvy sections of any design where thickness can fluctuate.
  2. The native CAD model is converted to .STL format with a very low resolution, resulting in heavy faceting in the model. If the .STL file’s resolution is too low, the model will be faceted instead of having smooth surfaces and curves. This can be quite common and produces unattractive parts. Typically, to achieve a smooth finish on a model, there should be an edge-to-edge distance of less than .02 inch between facets on the .STL file. Check the parameters on the native CAD program being used to determine the best method of exporting acceptable .STL files.
  3. The original CAD data has numerous unstitched surfaces (rather than solids), resulting in errors when converting to .STL format. Make sure that surfaces used in the original CAD model are water-tight. The .STL file should also be inspected to ensure that all dimensions, the part volume, and the surface area appear correct. Your 3D-print software should be built to assist with that.
  4. The part design has an enclosed hollow space from which support and build materials can’t be removed. Any enclosed hollow void in the design will contain support materials that can’t be removed upon model completion. This area may also be filled with unused resin or powder depending on the selected prototyping process. Consider filling in voids to be solid, building the design in halves to allow access to the enclosed space, or adding a hole of some kind in the model to allow for the removal of the support materials.
  5. Assemblies, threads, and mating features are designed with improper clearance. The standard tolerances for most additive manufacturing processes start at +/-0.005 inch and compound from there as the design increases in size. It’s not uncommon for first-time customers to receive parts that, while within the published tolerances of the manufacturing process, don’t mate up as intended. Typically, there should be a 0.015 inch to 0.02 inch clearance between mating parts, which is different from what’s required for traditional injection molding. This is an important point when the project’s success depends on how well different designs assemble with one another.
  6. The design includes a living hinge that needs to function. Living hinge designs on most parts produced via additive manufacturing don’t typically function as intended. The build material involved is often too rigid, especially in such a thin section, and will break. While a few materials have been developed to address this need (such as the Duraform EX material using the SLS process), expect limited use from a living hinge design produced via additive methods.
  7. The measurement units for the .STL file differ from what was intended. Double-check the .STL file’s properties to ensure that the correct unit is selected. This is especially true when there’s more than one design with varying units of measurement being built together. Some CAD packages also have default settings where .STL files may be exported in a different unit from what was used during the design process.”

To red the full article on the Design News website, please click here.

Patent Attorneys for New Product Development Lab

July 11, 2013

We are having a very busy summer here at 3D Innovations, and we are currently getting ready to help launch a Product Development Lab at the Manoa Innovation Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.

In preparation for the launch we are actively building relationships with local, national and global patent attorneys. We have a number of clients, small businesses and entrepreneurs that are interested in partnering with patent attorneys that handle “hardware” types of patents (i.e. widgets, anything that can be made from plastic, rubber, silicone and metal). If you are a patent attorney with this type of specialization or know a fellow patent attorney please contact us at When you contact us we can discuss the Product Development Lab further via e-mail or through a phone conference and see if this partnership would be a good match. We would love to have you as a resource for our entrepreneurs!

Learn more about us and the services we offer by visiting our website! If you have any questions or comments we can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at (808) 722-8667.


3D Innovations is a full service 3D Engineering/Design company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Popular 3D Printing & STEM Education News (June 17th – June 21st)

June 21, 2013

Here is your 3D printing and STEM education news roundup for the week! BIG news in the world of 3D Printing broke this week, Stratasys acquired MakerBot! This $400M deal had the internet buzzing with excitement and speculations. It will be very interesting to see what the future holds after this acquisition is complete…We will be sure to stay tuned and let you know what we hear in the coming weeks.

As always, if you would like to share news with the 3D Innovations community please leave it as a comment on this blog post. Thank you!

3D Printing News

STEM Education News


3D Innovations is a full service 3D Engineering/Design company – from the  3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

Additive Manufacturing Benefits Business

June 20, 2013

There has been a popular article circulating from the Manufacturing Business Technology website about the top five benefits of additive manufacturing that you have probably never considered, and we found it very insightful and wanted to share some of the article highlights with our 3D Innovations community. (Click here to view the article in its entirety.)

Top Five Benefits of Additive Manufacturing (You Never Considered)

The following are the top five benefits of additive manufacturing that highlight where the technology is taking us today.

1. Freedom to design and innovate without penalties

If there is one thing product engineers can count on, it’s modifications and redesigns; and it is one of the most important aspects of designing. Additive manufacturing is no longer just about the physical creation of a part. It brings design and innovation to the forefront. Having this creative freedom in the production process, without time or cost penalties, is the ultimate advantage over traditional manufacturing. This is especially true when you consider that over 60 percent of designs submitted for tooling are modified while in production. In traditional manufacturing, this can quickly lead to significant increases in cost and time delays. Additive manufacturing mitigates this through the movement away from static designs while enabling engineers to try multiple iterations simultaneously with minimal additional costs.

Companies do not have to tolerate design flaws that come with amortizing the cost of the tool before starting over. This freedom to design and innovate without penalties yields big rewards: compressed production schedules, better products, more product designs and ultimately, more products.

2. Increased supply chain proficiency with ‘3D faxing’

Think faxing is a technology of the past: think again. In the additive manufacturing world, it is the future and it has huge implications to helping manufacturers control their supply chain. Contract part manufacturers like RedEye On Demand have proprietary Internet communication technologies (ICT) that enable proficiency with supply chain management and global production orders. It works by allowing companies to manufacture via the internet through access to a global network of 3D printers and production systems. Companies are able to eliminate constraints and barriers so that design files can be processed digitally in one central location, and then 3D faxed to any printer on the network around the world, creating global digital factories.

One of the best aspects of the process is that it eliminates lost time and costs associated with shipping parts globally. Parts can be created at a digital factory near the manufacturing facility when and where they are needed, eliminating the hassle of customs, duties and inspections. General shipping and transportation fees are minimized through the process. Additionally, additive manufacturing allows for real-time visibility to production and receipt of parts, further increasing time and cost savings for part and original equipment manufacturers.

3. Support of green manufacturing initiatives

By now, it may have already occurred to you that additive manufacturing significantly streamlines traditional methods. This compressed process also equates to a smaller environmental footprint. When considering the mining process of steel or the retooling process required in traditional manufacturing, it is easy to see where additive manufacturing warrants consideration as a sustainable alternative.

Global digital factories, like RedEye On Demand’s, allow companies to access a global network of 3D printers and production systems to manufacture via the internet.While additive manufacturing relies on electricity, a relatively small amount is required to produce parts. Additionally, there is little waste as only the needed materials are used and the plastics are recyclable. And with 3D faxing there is significantly less trucking of parts. Additive manufacturing is also effective in the light-weighting of vehicles and aircraft, which is important in mitigating harmful fuel emissions. In fact, components produced using additive manufacturing processes like Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), allow manufacturing engineers to build solid parts with a semi-hollow honeycomb interior. These parts have an excellent strength to weight ratio that is equivalent to a solid part. The difference, however, is that these components can be as much as 65 percent lighter than traditional, subtractive manufacturing methods, which have tremendous impact on fuel costs of the final product.

4. Bottom line improvements through factory physics

One of the fastest ways to improve a company’s bottom line is by mitigating risk and increasing predictability. Using a framework known as factory physics, the all-digital additive manufacturing technology makes unpredictable production methods predictable by gauging factory loads. With online quoting engines and a part’s volume that CAD software can easily compute, engineers are given real-time delivery dates. At the same time, 3D printers have a known volume and capacity that can automatically be tracked and measured at any given moment. This ability to manage and automate factory loads means pricing becomes dynamic based on the factory physics at that moment. It also gives engineers a more efficient means of controlling pricing by mitigating risk of unpredictable scheduling or the fear of interruption to the supply chain. 3D printers can read CAD files to know how long it will take to build a part and how much material is needed before it’s even on the machine. This allows the ability to better plan capacity, give accurate delivery dates to customers and schedule factory capacity by forecasting future needs without interruption.

5. Get parts – fast

Ok, so you likely have already considered parts on demand as a major benefit of additive manufacturing, but it warrants repeating. Being able to access parts almost instantaneously allows a more fluid product development and design process. This brings us full circle back to freedom to redesign without penalties. For additive manufacturing, speed is the name of the game at all phases – quoting, production and shipping. This includes parts needed for end-use applications or for those where it makes sense to use the technology as a bridge to traditional manufacturing.

Whatever the case, all of the stories are the same and most end with additive manufacturing acting as the bridge. When one supplier fell through for an automotive manufacturer who was building machines in Asia, they turned to additive manufacturing to produce 250 ABS thermoplastic pieces instantly in order to keep the factory running. Without these parts on demand enabling continuous production, the factory would have been idle for weeks.  Similarly, for a government application, parts on demand meant saving lives of our armed forces when the production of military flashlights, used in battle, were put on hold because of retooling. With additive manufacturing available to help validate the new design, it allowed manufacturing assembly to kick in while tooling caught up. According to the purchasing manager, without additive manufacturing’s ability to redesign the part overnight, they would have had to wait 12 weeks.

The demand to obtain parts quickly will continue to rise, especially as the industry becomes increasingly comfortable and familiar with enabling technologies like additive manufacturing. In fact, traditional manufacturing companies are already beginning to increase the number of onsite additive manufacturing machines to fill the void. It is only a matter of time before the most significant benefits of this technology are realized and the future of manufacturing is transformed into global digital factories.

Popular 3D Printing & STEM Education News (October 8th – October 12th)

October 12, 2012

3D printing and STEM education have been very prevalent in the news once again this week. Check out the buzz that was circulating about both topics!

3D Printing News

STEM Education News

Popular 3D Printing & STEM Education News (August 27th – August 31st)

August 31, 2012

Here are some of the popular articles being discussed in the 3D printing and STEM education communities this week! We can’t wait to see what exciting news September will bring…stay tuned!

3D Printing News:

STEM Education News:

Lets Work Together to Bring 3D Printing to the Classroom

April 25, 2012

3D printing is a great way to get students interested in mechanical engineering and CAD. Unfortunately many schools do not have the funds or budget flexibility to purchase a 3D printer. We have been brainstorming and want to share some fundraising ideas. With a little planning and community support your students could soon be on their way to a stimulating engineering and technology lesson. Who knows, you just might be opening the door for students to fall in love with a STEM education field they did not know existed.

  1. A bake sale for the school and local community
  2. A school event in which proceeds (from ticket sales) go towards your 3D printer purchase (such as a student art night, student dance show, student play, etc.)
  3. A technology collection at your next school fair
  4. A school-wide fundraiser over the course of an academic year (nothing is more fun than a grade or classroom challenge)
  5. Contact the 3D printing company and ask for a school discount
When everyone gets together to help out it not only makes fundraisers fun, but it also brings the entire community together!

Look Ma, I Made It Myself! 10 Amazing Things 3-D Printers Can Do Now

What other fundraising ideas do you have? If you have raised funds to purchase a 3D printer or other piece of technology for your school please share you success story with us so that it can help inspire others!

2012 Hawaii STEM Conference

March 14, 2012

The 2012 Hawaii STEM Conference is right around the corner, March 30 & 31, 2012.

3D Academy is committed to bringing CAD and 3D technology into the classroom and expanding STEM education for middle school students. We strongly believe in the benefits of STEM education and the impact it has on our future generations.

The 2012 Hawaii STEM Conference is sponsored by the Maui Economic Development Board’s Women in Technology project. It will be held at the beautiful Wailea Marriott on Maui. The conference will be attended by over 200 STEM/Service Learning students, teachers, parents, community and business leaders. The conference will celebrate their work over the past year, share their stories and meet other STEM/Service Learning students from different islands.

Over the two days, software training sessions will be held in the following areas — 3D CAD, Photoshop, Web Design, Game Design, Videography, GIS/GPS, Leadership, Science/Adaptive Optics, and Green Technologies.

If you are interested in attending please visit the official website for more information.

3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing IS Changing the Manufacturing Industry

March 1, 2012

How will 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing change the way conventional manufacturing methods are utilized?

Is 3D Printing just a cool process or are there added benefits and value gained to using this additive fabrication process over conventional machining methods? 3D Printing is cool, but the manner in which it is being used has greatly added to its appeal. 3D Printing is now moving beyond the prototyping and design validation stages and into production applications.

If you’re manufacturing low volumes of a product, using Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM) might be a more cost effective method for producing end-use production parts. Of course one off prototypes or even production parts can benefit from DDM, but did you know it is now being adopted and used as implants in medical applications? Another emerging industry that has begun to utilize 3D Printing are the many food manufacturing sectors.  3D Printers can now produce parts using chocolate!

With these new technologies emerging, how will 3D Printing be used and will it be available for the home/consumer markets at an affordable price while providing similar quality as higher end production 3D Printing machines?


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3D Printing: Making Its Way Into Our Homes

January 18, 2012

As 3D printing continues to grow in popularity, industry leaders are trying to simplify the process so that the average consumer can start doing some 3D printing of their own. Simplifying the 3D printing process will allow consumers to start printing items in their own home instead of heading out to the store the next time a dish breaks or a construction project arises…it brings engineering and technology right into our living rooms.

3D Systems has taken what might be its most aggressive step yet in creating a personal 3D printer and content creation market with its unveiling of, an online community and content creation site, and the Cube personal 3D printer for the home.

With its latest moves, 3D Systems is aiming to kick things up a notch — or bring 3D printing down a level to appeal to the masses, however you want to look at it. The company says combines “coloring book simplicity with a cloud-based gaming format.”

Rajeev Kulkarni, vice president and general manager of the company’s new Consumer Solutions Group, told us that the site brings 3D content creation into everyone’s living room. “We’re trying to help anyone not well versed with 3D creation to get their ideas into reality and simplify the entire content-to-print process.” offers an expanding palette of 3D apps and rich libraries of 3D printable games, puzzles, and collections. 3D Systems is making the APIs available to encourage partners, developers, and engineers who want to “unleash their creativity and who want to monetize their skills” to develop apps and content to be marketed and sold at the site. The company says its developer community will eventually number in the thousands.

To continue reading the Design News article, click here.

If you have additional questions about 3D printing, contact us at and we can help answer your questions.