3D Printing Applications
Fortunately, at Potomac we have an extensive range of both additive and subtractive Digital Fabrication machines from which to choose the right tool for the job. For some applications, 3D printing is exactly the right tool, due to its very special capabilities that are unique to additive manufacturing. When required, we can also combine technologies to find the complete solution to a customer’s manufacturing needs. Here are a few examples:
Rapid Prototyping is one of the best applications of 3D Printing for industry. 3D Printing produces functional prototypes, meaning the full design is 3D Printed in working mode, usually without need for assembly.
Best of all, coming from a Computer-Aided-Design or CAD file, changes can be made quickly and easily right on your computer, eliminating the time and expense of creating a new mold.
3D Printing in strong materials such as ABS also allows you to test parts right in their work environment. Then when the design is finalized, the part can be transitioned to the end material such as stainless steel or aluminum.
With our high-resolution 3D Printers and extensive experience working in the micro digital fabrication space, Potomac can manufacture parts on very small spatial scales. Miniaturization in all industries is on the rise, especially for new medical devices, microelectronics, sensors, microfluidic devices, consumer products, and security systems.
In our own work at Potomac, fixturing is a big part of the success in completing jobs whether for laser micro machining, micro CNC machining or any other process. Many of the parts we make are so small they are not easily held, and we have to make our own fixtures.
3D printing can often mean design consolidation due to the process’ ability to create complex geometries in one go and that slashes part counts which in turn reduces costs. It also means that we can modify a fixture design as our customer’s parts change. It’s fast and easy to create new fixtures so we save the space of storing old fixtures that are no longer needed.
For a recent laser micromachining job, we were creating medical devices to delivery cancer drugs to targeted areas of the body. The parts were thinner in diameter than a human hair and obviously needed to be held still as we were machining. With 3D Printing we created a fixture that allowed us to accurately laser micromachine the parts with tight tolerances.
Potomac has a long history partnering with medical device companies when next generation manufacturing techniques were required to push the industry forward. In our early days utilizing new laser micromachining technology we built some of the first coronary stents and helped manufacture the first glucose sensor for the insulin pump. By adding 3D Printing to our fabrication toolkit, Potomac is able to continue to foster innovation for leading edge medical device development.
Developed by Momo Scientific, a Johns Hopkins University spin-off, the CryoPop is a low-cost medical device that uses a cryogenic process to treat cervical pre-cancerous lesions. With the easy availability of CO2 cartridges from the soda industry around the world, costs are low, and many lives can be saved.
Potomac was able to provide much higher resolution in order to provide the parameters needed to fulfill the design requirement.