Writing about the experience of Ingeniacity in the world of 3D printing is something we have had pending for a long time.
Although we are a relatively young company—we were formed in July 2015—our know-how about this technology goes back to 2005 with the emergence of the Open-Source RepRap project and the first SLS (selective laser sintering) 3D printers. Since then, several of Ingeniacity’s current partners have been following its evolution and development. Later in 2011, when the Ultimaker Original (UMO) appeared on the market—a 3D DIY (Do It Yourself) printer kit within the reach of our pockets—we purchased it without thinking.
Using this printer, we have been testing out different materials that have come onto the market and perfecting their performance with further improvements and customized pieces. Each material requires different printing parameters and ways of preparing the machine, so you must carry out several tests before being able to print a valid piece. The choice of material depends mainly on the final use of the part.
We print prototypes for product validation and manufacture functional parts, both for ourselves and our customers. The potential of this technology is enormous and very diverse.
Below we will show some of the uses of 3D printing that we carry out and which we currently offer Ingeniacity’s customers.
Exhaust Pipe Outlet
One piece that we are very proud of is this exhaust pipe outlet, which has been running since 2012: The technique used to produce it is still seen today as innovative.
The objective was to design and manufacture a custom-made part using carbon fiber material for the wet exhaust outlet of a sailboat. Due to its funnel shape and small size, manufacturing this piece was very complex.
The traditional way to build these pieces is to make a mold or mechanized molds to subsequently manufacture. The high cost of machining and the time of its delivery (in this case it is dependent on a third party) encouraged us to become creative and think of alternatives such as 3D printing.
What we finally did was design a printed part in PLA that would serve as a mold for manufacturing in carbon fiber and we decide to have it embedded inside the same piece, thereby allowing us to work on both sides of the printed mold. The difficulty that arose from it being embedded was that the 3D printing had to be very thin and, at the same time, it had to keep its functionality as a mold.
In the photo you can see the exhaust outlet and next to it, in the extended area, you can distinguish the part that is the carbon fiber piece, which is black, and the part that is the mold or the printed piece, which is gray.
High Load Pulley Support
Developed as a customized solution to support two high load pulleys and, therefore, the main requirement was its resistance.
The parts were printed in ABS, which is a more resistant material than PLA, and while the upper part of the piece served as a guide for the rope that passed through the pulley, its base positioned it at the desired height for working and supported it when bearing the loads.
The pieces perfectly served their purpose and gave a smart and modern finish.
This piece was designed as an aesthetic finish for a hole made on a manhole cover.
The piece was made in 2013 for a customer.
As it was located in a marine environment, the customer did not want to put on a metallic piece that could oxidize which made 3D printing one of the best alternatives, both in terms of cost and requirements.
The steps that were followed are shown below: the design and printing in plastic PLA, preparation of the piece, sealed and painted.
Due to the specific printing technology, between the layers of the piece there is an uneven gluing making a seal or porous cover necessary on the surface. In this case it was made with several layers of epoxy resin.
Once sanded and cleaned, it was painted with an airbrush and black epoxy primer, applying several layers to it. As a finish, a tinted varnish was used to match the matt paint of the surroundings.
For its installation, silicone stitches were used on the inside of the frame to facilitate its removal if necessary. The piece fits perfectly and has an elegant appearance.