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Graphite offers large scale parts in a range of ABS-like materials

News International-French

24 Jun 2014

Graphite Additive Manufacturing, a supplier of 3D printed parts, in high performance materials for the most demanding motorsport and aerospace applications, annonce the ability to build large parts in ABS-like materials for use in prototyping and manufacturing.

Often referred to as ‘ABS mimics’, this range of materials all start out as liquid photopolymer resin which, via the process of Stereolithography (SLA) can be formed into the most complex of structures and cured to create a solid plastic component or model.

Graphite can supply ABS-like components in their natural state of either white, grey or clear. Alternatively the parts can be hand-finished and depending on their end use, be polished, painted or even metal plated. Graphite can also supply parts sanded and primed, ready for customers to paint to their own specifications.

The clear version of Graphite’s ABS-like material is a multi-purpose plastic with a good elongation to break, water resistance and optical clarity. In certain forms it can be supplied polished to make it crystal clear (to represent lenses or inspection windows for example) or with a blasted finish to make it ‘frosted’ or opaque. Typical applications for this material include flow analysis, master patterns, concept models and quickcast patterns.

Because of the way the SLA process builds, it is possible to create highly complex and detailed geometries within the parts. The clear component shown in the photo was made with in-built ‘pressure taps’. Pressure taps are used on wind tunnel models and are small holes perpendicular to the surface of a part, connected by long thin tubes to a pressure transducer outside of the model. Previously made by drilling the surface of a part and using pipes to connect to the transducer, the SLA process allows complex taps to be built-in to a part during its construction. This negates the need for drilling or the construction of complex pipework systems and because the pathways are completely enclosed within the solid part there is no danger of leakage leading to inaccurate pressure measurements. Such pressure taps can be reliably built down to a diameter of 1 mm and in lengths of up to 500 mm. This demonstrates the abilities of SLA to produce such detailed features inside a component.

Graphite’s grey and white ABS mimics are also multi-purpose plastics. They have a good impact strength and are ideal for functional concept models and snap fits. Graphite has previously supplied a customer with prototypes made up of over 20 individual parts produced in their different ABS-like materials. The separate parts were painted and chrome plated to represent the appearance of the final manufactured components as closely as possible. Material choice was very important as the components needed to withstand the fitting together of the multiple snap-fit mounts and parts, allow the model to be drilled and tapped during assembly and be strong enough to cope with general handling and use during operational trials.

Producing the parts using SLA and Graphite’s specialist ABS-like photopolymers was an ideal solution as not only were the surface finishes of the materials important but the components had to be completely accurate in order to mount internal electronics, user controls and read-out screens.

Photo: Eiffel Tower model in ABS-like material