Sorry, I know this isn’t a question, but it’s great information and a very cool new piece of technology!
In March 2014, we added high-definition additive machining to our capability. The machine (3D Systems Pro Jet 3000HD Plus) is capable of holding tolerance to +/-.001, more than good enough to create high quality housing and fixturing designs.
The printed material is rigid, dry, non greasy, non-powdery, ABS-like polymer, which is hardened under a UV lamp. The wax support material is easy to remove and clean off. The resulting surface finish is smooth; the output looks like a molded/machined part.
We’ve calibrated the equipment and our engineering approach to negate material shrinkage and warping.
Lead time from engineering model to finished parts is (currently) 24 hrs. If you’re really in a hurry and need a working proof of concept, or short run output, this technology is more than good enough to accommodate your needs. If you need it, we can turn around the approved design in a week (fiber and all). Of course, if you only want the printed model, it’s no problem.
In addition to the time-saving aspect, the cost for the service can be less than a traditional machining effort, particularly when the requirement is for one piece…and if you intend to use molded components in your serial production design, this technology will save $1000’s of dollars and weeks of time proving out the design.
We have been working with several customers using this resource; they love it, and no longer want to use machined housings.
Of course, the technology is not optimal for every application; if the parts require repetitive dry fitting prior to assembly, if the application is high temp or corrosive, or exposed to high torque fixturing, metal is still best.
Additionally, volume efficiency is size dependent… and unlike traditional machining, there is very little economy of scale saving… so as the quantity goes up, the cost saving (compared to machining) goes down.
This technology is very impressive… I’m sure it could be a useful and cost efficient part of your next product development effort.