Additive manufacturing: important technologies to complete the traditional ones

Why only print prototypes? Start with 3D printing seriously!

Illustration start with 3d printing sucessfully

Prototypes are often produced using additive manufacturing processes. This is the simplest use case. But with 3D printing you can achieve so much more! Get started and take advantage of the benefits. A guide on how to approach the new technologies step-by-step.

To make 3D printing economically viable and worthwhile, there are a few points to consider. In the following article you will find various tips. All links with further information can be found at the end of the article (see numbers in the text).

What can 3D printing do and what can't?

Expectations are an important ingredient if something new is to bring success. What advantages can additive manufacturing offer you in 2022?

One thing first: 3D printing will not replace conventional manufacturing. That is not the goal. Rather, additive manufacturing offers an important and useful complement to more traditional manufacturing processes. Every technology has its advantages and disadvantages, and 3D printing is no exception.


In terms of projects and applications:

An important note to start with: if a part was designed to be manufactured with turning, milling or injection molding, and is now to be processed identically with 3D printing, it is usually not worth it. Exceptions: small quantities, spare parts that are no longer available, or in the case of supply bottlenecks!

What is worthwhile, however, are all cases in which the known processing methods reach their limits. Parts can be designed for additive manufacturing with unprecedented design freedom. This brings many advantages. For example, lightweight parts that can withstand strong pressure/tension but weigh much less. Or assemblies whose individual parts are combined into a single component, for example robotic grippers and the like.

With cooling channels, there is the opportunity to place them precisely where the optimum benefit can be achieved for the part. Parts that need to be changed frequently or personalized parts, for example prostheses that are perfectly adapted for the wearer, are suitable for 3D printing. There are countless other examples and use cases (1).

What materials can be processed?

Jellypipe bietet über 100 Materialien zur Auswahl

Hundreds of different materials (2a, 2b ) can now be processed in 3D printing. These include simple standard materials such as PLA or PA12, as well as high-performance plastics such as xPEEK and the like. In addition, there are fiber-reinforced plastics that are used in automotive racing, among other applications, and can withstand the highest loads. Likewise, metals such as aluminum, titanium, tool steel, etc. can be processed with 3D printing. The components can be used in machines without any problems. In addition to the material, the technology with which the parts are produced has an influence on their properties.

How good are quality of 3D printed parts, surfaces and tolerance values

People often ask what to expect in terms of part quality. Forget about the 3D printed parts that can be produced with simple FDM printers at home. Industrial printers produce completely different results. Meanwhile, injection molding-like surfaces (3a, 3b ) are feasible with the right process. This is possible through the use of high-precision lasers and projectors.

Tolerance dimensions are the greater challenge, but not one that cannot be solved. There are variations depending on the material, the technology used and the orientation in the build space. Basically, an accuracy of +/- 0.3mm can be expected. An important aspect: is the tolerance really required on all surfaces of the component, or is this simply required out of habit of the traditional manufacturing methods (4)? In addition, very good results can be obtained with the appropriate post-processing methods.


What quantities can be printed:

The number of parts to be produced is no longer an obstacle. 10'000 pieces and more can be produced in series without any problems. (5). And this with the right material/technology combination at competitive prices. Costs for tools that are only worthwhile after years of use are eliminated. In addition, changes can be made at any time and unnecessary, expensive stock-keeping of parts is eliminated.

Is it worth buying a 3D printer?

Fused Deposition Modeling FDM 3D-Druck

Are you asking yourself whether you should buy a 3D printer? (6) Or which is the best 3D printer? This can only be answered if it is clear what exactly you need. Parts made from one material, or many different plastics and metals? What number of parts do you need per year? Can you utilize a printer with this volume, or is it sitting there unused?

Keep in mind that an industrial printer requires a larger investment, and that technology is rapidly evolving. That's why it's always worth ordering parts from an external 3D printing service or a 3D printing store first, so you can gain important expertise and go from 3D printing novice to professional.

What do you need to know before you commission your first project?

If you need a spare part that is no longer available, or order parts from 3D printing due to supply shortages, virtually nothing. Select the material you need (Material Wizard on the platform) and start a request, or place an order.

If you want to take advantage of additive manufacturing and redesign parts, then you should acquire some basic knowledge. Designing for 3D printing requires knowledge of the technologies used, as they dictate certain cornerstones of the design. However, don't let too much information scare you away. Anything you relearn can be done gradually, and 3D printing is no exception. It is impossible to know everything in the field of additive manufacturing, as the technologies are rapidly evolving.

How to start your project!

Surely now you think of a project you have? This is how you start.

The simplest variant: You discuss a concrete project with your contact person (Solution Partner of Jellypipe (7)). Based on the area of application and properties of a component, you will receive answers as to what needs to be considered in the design.

Another approach:


1. inform about basics

Familiarize yourself with the appropriate process. First inform yourself about basic topics. How an FDM print works; similar to a 2D printer, but with layers, you can imagine. Powder bed processes are quite different. Watch a video of a 3D printer using powder bedding processes, e.g. SLS (8), to get a first impression of what happens during production. After that, learn about basic design topics such as topology optimization (9) and lattice structures (10).


2. choose material and technology

Next, select the appropriate material for your component. Define properties and application area, and narrow down the material. The easiest way to do this is with the material wizard on the platform. Are you unsure? Just ask!

Based on the selected material, you will be taken to the available processing technologies. At this point, it makes sense for 3D printing beginners to check whether the chosen material/technology combination makes sense. Ask your solution partner! Afterwards, nothing stands in the way of the design and a successful project!


3. consider technology-specific peculiarities, design component

The technology used now defines the basis for your design, i.e. the 3D printing design guidelines for your project:

  • If there is more than one technology to choose from, read more about the differences (11a, 11b, 11c).
  • What are the minimum wall thicknesses required for the selected technology? (12)
  • Are support structures required for the chosen technology (13)i.e. angles and overhanging parts must be optimally designed accordingly.
  • What about surface finish (3b), is it necessary to plan for post-processing, if so where and which?
  • Can/should corners/edges be mapped, or is it worth designing them as curves?
  • Can the part be printed hollow or do holes need to be drilled for powder removal?
  • Are threads required, do they have to be cut subsequently or are thread inserts used?
  • Do certain chemical resistances have to be met?
  • Are certain certifications required?


Design ready? Congratulations, now you can order your first component!


4. order component or get offer

If you are already sure what you need, you can order your component directly. Is it the first of its kind? You are also welcome to make a so-called "individual request" on the platform, if there are still uncertainties. The Print-Factory will then check the project and give you hints and prepare an offer.


We are looking forward to your project. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us or our solution partners.

Your Jellypipe

Links to the references in the text

  1. Find applications: to the blog
  2. Materials: 2a) Overview of all materials / the most important materials:2b) Selection incl. assignment to the application
  3. 3D printing vs. injection molding: 3a) to the blog // and surface finish:3b) to the blog
  4. Tolerances in 3D printing: to the blog
  5. Quantities in large series: to the blog
  6. Buy printer or service provider: to the blog
  7. Contact: Solution Partner
  8. SLS video: to the Jellypipe Youtube video
  9. Topology optimization: to the blog
  10. Lattice structures: to the blog
  11. Technologies and technology comparisons, blog posts: 11a) MJF or SLS, 11b) FDM, 11c) SLA or DLP
  12. Wall thicknesses: to the blog
  13. Technologies for Support Structures-Specifications: all technologies


Yvonne Gredig
Chief Marketing Officer

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