We are moving carefully into the corporate market place. We can print designs which fit within a 330 x 240 x 300 mm build envelope - though anything which comes close to filling this volume would take many days to print.

  • A fairly solid 15cm high item with overhangs took us three and a half days to print

We have been doing a certain amount of

  • Prototyping

  • Architectural models

  • Short runs of bespoke designs which would otherwise have been injection moulded.

We can routinely print items capable of withstanding moderately serious stresses. Without using any exotic filaments we have produced test prints which have withstood 160kg tension (our basic PLA filament) and 210 kg (resin). On a day-to-day basis, such basic prints will look good and stand up to routine handling for years, providing the designs are reasonably robust. At this level, you can totally control colours, in that there is a company which produces filaments to precise pantone numbers.

However, there are an increasing range of more specialised filaments with distinct physical, tactile or functional characteristics. Although some of these high-performance filaments will test the abilities of our printers, we can advise on filament choices to give specific results. Aspects which might interest you are

  • Aesthetics - wood, metal effects

  • Alternative to plastics - ceramics,earthenware

  • Brittleness

  • Castability (re moulds etc)

  • Chemical resistance

  • Conductivity

  • Durability

  • Flexibility

  • Food safety

  • Friction coefficients

  • Hygroscopy - degrees of water absorption

  • Impact resistance

  • Inter-layer strength - Shearing resistance

  • Magnetic capabilities - ferromagnetism

  • Optical clarity

  • Phosphorescence - Glow in Dark

  • Post-print colouring - dyeing etc

  • Rigidity

  • Shatter resistance

  • Strength

  • Sustainability (Biodegradability)

  • Temperature limits

  • Ultraviolet stability

  • Weather resistance

  • Weight

So, if you specify your end working environment, we will have a good chance of finding a material which will satisfy your needs - with one important caveat. As that working environment becomes more demanding, issues round structural integrity will become more pressing. Our printers lay down layers of filament which, though they fuse to some extent, will be vulnerable to shearing. As with fibre-reinforced composites, it is possible to counter this by optimising print orientation. However, it would currently be unsafe to put one of our prints into a working engine or into the rigging of a racing yacht.

Our Ultimaker S5 can take filaments which are being touted as producing prints which can be competitive with injection-moulded components. The kind of end uses which are now being discussed are

  • Automotive under-the-hood applications

  • Protective and supporting sports gear

  • High performance functional parts

  • Manufacturing jigs and fixtures

  • Medical braces and prosthetics

  • Light weight applications

  • Structural applications requiring durable and stiff parts with good mechanical properties

  • Mechanical parts like hinges, buckles, or gears

Feel free to float ideas at us, and we will advise as to whether we can print to meet your needs