Production 3D Printing with the Stratasys Fortus 450mc 3D Printer
Production 3D printers, like the Fortus 450mc, are ideal for engineers that require demanding flexibility to print larger-sized or many parts in an array of engineering-grade materials with high speed and unfailing throughput. Take designs from virtual to real in hours, not weeks. From functional prototypes with exacting tolerances, to manufacturing tools that perform under pressure, the Fortus 380 and 450mc 3D production systems set a high bar for speed, performance and accuracy.
The Stratasys Fortus 450mc is the second largest FDM printer in Stratasys’ Production Series lineup. It boasts a 16″ x 14″ print bed, can print with up to 10 different materials and has the capability to extrude layers as thin as .005”.
GrabCAD Print Software
Starting a print job on the 450mc starts from the software. Load up your part in GrabCAD Print and set the print settings to your specification. After hitting “Print” in the software, the GCode file will immediately be sent off to the printer (via USB or Network connection, depending on your setup) and will be displayed in the printer queue. Before you can print, however, a build sheet (or foundation sheet) needs to be applied to the print bed. There are multiple build sheets that are used for different types of material, each with their own thickness and heat tolerance.
Applying Build Sheet
When you have the appropriate sheet for your material, place it on the print bed and close the oven door. The sheet must be vacuum sealed onto the surface, and the heat of the oven will soften the build sheet to the point where it will flatten itself against the platen. Heating the sheet does take time, but you can always manually press the sheet in different spots to get it to flatten out.
Time to Print
Once everything is in place, you can go ahead and hit the “Play” button on the printer’s UI. Print times are dependent on a lot of factors, mainly:
- Infill density – Amount of material that fills the solid portion of the part. The denser the part, the more time it takes for the printer to complete each layer.
- Part size – The overall dimensions of the part. Larger parts take more time.
- Material – Different grades of plastic require different melting temperatures. For example, plastics like ASA and ABS take less time to melt than Nylon or ULTEM. The quicker the plastic melts, the faster the print time.
- Layer thickness – The Stratasys 450mc is capable of extruding layers as thin as .005” and as thick as .013”. As the layer sizes get smaller, the part comes out with more detail. However, the time to print is increased.
Stabilizing the Printer
It is a good idea to secure the printer against the ground using the stabilizing pads that are underneath. The servos that move the print head in its X/Y directions generate a lot of torque. Pairing that with the weight of the printer generates a significant amount of momentum as the head moves side to side. This can render the printer inaccurate, as the parts could move inside the oven. Avoid this by locking the printer in place and making sure the entire system is level.
Minimize Costs and Lead Times
Printing a low-volume production run with a Fortus machines can maximize sales opportunities while minimizing cost and lead time because there’s no minimum quantity requirement. Plus, part complexity doesn’t add time or cost, so production can begin as soon as the CAD files are sent to the 3D production system.
The Fortus systems provide a fast and accurate means of producing tooling. The efficiency of the FDM 3D Printing process makes it practical to optimize tooling design.
Compared to other additive fabrication systems, Fortus 3D Production Systems are easy to operate and maintain as there are no messy powders to handle and contain. They’re so simple, an operator can be trained to operate a Fortus system in less than 30 minutes. You can install a Fortus 3D Production System just about anywhere. No special venting is required because Fortus systems produce no noxious fumes, chemicals or waste.