Read on for part 2 of my interview with GSC’s 3D printing field engineer, Aaron Niedermann. Aaron works closely with Markforged and HP 3D printing systems. Check out part 1 where Aaron answers my questions on his favorite printer, each system’s strengths and weaknesses, tolerances, metal 3D printing, and more!
This interview has been edited for clarity.
MF: What industries do you see Markforged and HP 3D Printing used the most?
AN: Low volume manufacturing is great for Markforged machines. But the absolute best thing about Markforged is that they can print tooling for other processes super well. A Markforged machine produces very strong parts with very good tolerances, and has an affordable entry price.
I mean, CNC operators and machinists cost a lot of money. If you’re machining the tooling for your CNC machines on your CNC machines, that’s time you’re burning not making money. And if you’re running a $150k – $250k Haas, you could just plop a Markforged right next to it and it will spit out the tooling you need for the day each morning. That’s an incredible thing.
Instead of a CNC operator spending an hour or two of their 8 hour day machining tooling, we’re just printing it overnight while they’re sleeping. Now, your operator can spend an extra hour making parts. And that’s actually a bigger effect than just looking at a Markforged machine and thinking “hey, we got a 3D printer that makes parts.” No, it’s a tool that enables your other, better CNC machines to make many more lucrative parts.
And I actually see a lot of HP machines used by people doing rapid prototyping.
MF: Really? Didn’t you say how HP machines were great production machines, but not necessarily used often for prototyping?
AN: Well, I’m not talking about individual companies doing their own rapid prototyping; it’s service bureaus using HP printers to meet the rapid prototyping needs of hundreds of companies. That’s what a service bureau is doing with HP. We also see HP used a lot in customized applications, such as in the dental field. There’s a company that does invisible braces and uses the HP to print the vacuform molds. Very large companies will also use their HP machine pretty much any way you can think of. They’ll do all their prototyping and fixturing on an HP.
MF: What are some of the biggest misconceptions people have about HP and Markforged?
AN: So for both machines you have to design for Additive Manufacturing (DFAM). And that’s something that people don’t always understand. They’ll look at a part that’s designed to be drop forged, and say “let’s print it as is.”
You have to design the part around the manufacturing process that’s used. In general, things that are designed for 3D printing have shallow support angles or require no support at all. They’ll avoid horizontal holes and trapped volumes among other things. There’s a lot of effort that goes into making a part CNC machinable, and the same effort should go into making a part 3D printable.
MF: So you’re saying that the misconception is that these machines can print whatever you want, no matter the design, and function as they should?
MF: Would the solution then be more education?
AN: For sure. AM is not a new technology, but there has been so much growth in the past few years, making people really excited about 3D printing. It comes down to educating people on where these machines can really make the most difference. An HP is an incredible machine, a Markforged is an incredible machine, and other technologies are very incredible machines as well. That is, as long as these technologies are used where they’re strongest.
MF: Now, – shameless plug – does GSC provide educational resources for customers to learn DFAM, specifically for HP and Markforged?
AN: Absolutely. We have Nick Schmidtke. He’s an applications engineer for both HP and Markforged technologies. Anyone who has any questions on the technology will be speaking with him. Nick can also vet customer applications – we don’t want people going through this whole process, looking into the machines or whatnot, only to find out at the very end that 3D printing won’t work. Right from the get-go, we work with customers to see if the part can be redesigned for additive, or if the part can be printed as-is. If a customer purchases a machine, we’ll work hand-in-hand with them to help develop the best applications for the technology.
MF: How should you get started implementing AM into your business if you’ve never had any experience with 3D printing, prior?
AN: The first thing you should do is start talking with people that own the machines. Service bureaus are great for this, as well as resellers that sell more than one type of machine. What you’re really trying to figure out is your application and then the best technology to fit that application. I will be the first to say that there are applications that the HP and the Markforged can’t do, while other additive technologies can. Transparent parts, for example, is an application that HP cannot do. But, transparent parts are done very well in Polyjet or SLA technologies. Even if you know what you need, you’ll still have a lot of learning to do before you buy a machine.
MF: Would you say that when you think you have an application that you’d like to explore with additive, maybe go to a service bureau and get some trial parts before dropping money on a machine?
AN: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.
About 3D Printing with GSC
There are a variety of ways you can take advantage of 3D printing. Have a question? We’re always available to talk over the phone, for you to leave a message, or for you to submit a request – just contact us.
See similar blogs on 3D Printing:
- How to Have an Additive Approach
- Saving on Tooling Costs: How Johnson Level Did It
- 3 Metal 3D Printed Parts to Know About
- How to Save with Leasing an HP Printer
- Markforged Parts: Strong & Affordable
- 3D Printing for Milwaukee Police Masks with HP
Please let us know if you would like to:
- Talk over the phone with our Application Engineer to identify possible applications in your line
- Get a sample part of yours printed to prove material strength and ROI
- Virtually attend a free, short-and-sweet webinar with our 3D printing team
Anything you need, we’re here to help!
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