Here at Forecast, we operate the latest generation of FDM (fused deposition modeling) equipment with the large platform Fortus 900mc production system by Stratasys. The incredibly large build chamber of 36 x 24 x 36 inches allows for the rapid creation of large models from actual production thermoplastics in a variety of layer thicknesses as fine as .005 per layer. While large components and assemblies are something we specialize in, this system also provides for finely featured small parts as well as materials including:
- ABS-M30 - Stronger than standard ABS with a greater tensile, impact and flexural strength.
- ABS-ESD7 - ABS thermoplastic with static dissipative properties.
- ASA - Most aesthetically appealing FDM material available in multiple UV stable color options.
- NYLON 12 - Applications requiring repetitive snap fits, high fatigue resistance, strong chemical resistance and press (friction) fit inserts.
- PC - Durable, stable, strong and accurate.
- PC-ABS - for strong, flexible parts with excellent heat resistance.
- PC-ISO - Excellent durability, high performance plastic with medical applications.
- PPSF (PolyPhenylSulfone) - highly chemical resistant, UL V-Zero rated and incredibly durable.
- ULTEM 1010 - offers the highest heat resistance, chemical resistance and tensile strength of any FDM thermoplastic.
- ULTEM 9085 - Very high performance plastic that meets smoke and toxicity requirements.
- SR-100 - Soluble Support Material with hands-free support removal.
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is a rapid prototyping 3D printing process that extrudes ABS plastic, layer by layer with an inkjet type extrusion head, to build a 3D model. The build material is added to the FDM machine in a wire form from a cartridge up to the extrusion tip that heats and melts the material. The head traverses in an X and Y direction and extrudes material onto the build platform to create a two-dimensional cross section of the model. The material quickly cools and the build platform lowers into the frame as the next layer is extruded upon the first until the Z axis is complete and thus the build. FDM models are made from actual ABS plastics from Sabic, among other high performance thermoplastic materials.
FDM parts can withstand rigorous testing and won't shrink, warp or absorb moisture; making them great for testing form, fit, and function. These are high strength parts that are perfect for Rapid Manufacturing applications saving time and money versus traditional manufacturing methods. Because the models are built with ABS plastic, they lend themselves well to being drilled, tapped, threaded and painted as well as master patterns for our ProCast RTV process for higher volume applications where an SLA master may become damaged during the process. The inexpensive and rapid development of FDM prototypes greatly reduces design-to-production time, which allows for a much higher return on investment.
Finishing Touch Smoothing Station
At Forecast 3D we operate the latest in FDM processing technology, the Finishing Touch Smoothing Station. It uses a semi-automated process for surface finishing of FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) parts. The result is near injection-molded quality without the labor and cost associated with traditional 3D part manufacturing. The Finishing Touch makes FDM parts 15 times smoother* and can be used with all of the ABS materials that we offer.
Prepare Parts for Finishing
Whether you're creating concept models, patterns or end-use parts, make them even smoother with our parts finishing station. Use Finishing Touch as part of your 3D part manufacturing process to prepare parts for:
- Surface sealing
- Sand casting
- Investment casting
- Vacuum metallization
Smoothing with Finishing Touch does not affect part accuracy. According to an independent study by the University of Texas-El Paso, the smoothing process made negligible dimensional changes on smoothed parts. See details of the study when you download machine specifications.
Remove Layer Lines
With the Finishing Touch Smoothing Station, small layer lines can be easily removed from FDM parts. With some post processing done to parts, the resulting surface can be close to injection-molded quality and appropriate for end-use consumer applications. For more information contact your project manager.
* Data derived from an independent study conducted by QC Inspection. Parts analyzed were produced with a Fortus 3D Production System using .010 inch slice thickness. On average, surface roughness decreased from Ra 600 to Ra 40 to 60, equating to a 10 to 15 times smoother part surface.