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52. A Drool-Worthy Process for Rapid Prototyping of Metal Parts

At my house, it's not enough to love great products and every detail of how they were made. That fact is obvious to anyone who has seen my less-than-interested daughter hold her ears and run out of the room screaming at the first peep of conversations involving "machining" or "part line." Product design infatuation was clearly part of our marriage vows, along with brewing strong coffee, making souffle, and having and holding until the end. But when Formula 1 starts using a new method of rapid prototyping in metal, well, the pairing of the two topics seems almost cause for a celebration where I live, or at least a multi-hour discussion of the method's potential over dinner with our equally obsessive friends.

Real Metal Parts from an Astonishing Prototyping Process
Metal parts without machining, casting or tooling! Parts that are functionally production tooling durability and can be used for testing, assembly trials and final design validation!? I imagine this technology having a similar impact to when stereolithography (SLA) took off. Only in this case, the parts are durable, with finishing could emulate a final manufactured part, and can have details that were never possible with conventional fabrication methods. Just to be 100% clear, they are putting these prototype parts in actual cars and using them to test.

For comparison, consider nylon sintering, called "Selective Laser Sintering" (SLS), if you are familiar with that approach. SLS for prototyping plastic molding parts has been around a bit longer and is a lot more accessible than metal sintering in terms of availability and cost. Nylon sintering makes durable parts, but the parts are hard to finish relative to an SLA, for example, which can be easily sanded. Metal laser sintering, on the other hand, is made with much finer layers than its nylon cousin, which means it has a nicer surface to begin with, has greater strength in the z-axis, and - with finishing - is as cosmetically beautiful as a "real" part.

Here are some samples we have done before, please kindly take a look:

Product design

Product design
Rapid prototyping

rapid prototyping

Plastic molds
Custom molds

Electronic product
design samples

rapid prototype

Plastic molds
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                                                    Marsha Dunmyre
                                                          CA, U.S.A
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