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Part 3 – 3D Printing of the master parts

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3D Viper PartsI can say that the most nerve-racking and stressful process of the project, was commissioning the 3D Printing. We spoke to a lot of organisations in this space but finally decided upon a company that had a Viper SLA machine for the final finished printing process as this provided us with very finely detailed, high quality 3D parts. Low-end MakerBot printers simply didn’t provide the level of quality we needed in the printing process so the decision was made to select a professional quality machine using SLA (also known as Stereolithography) . If we got it wrong at this stage, the work of the past 6 weeks was going to be wasted so we needed to be certain before we ‘pressed the button’.

3D Viper SLA PartsThankfully, we didn’t need to worry. We were amazed with the turnaround, ordering just a few days before Christmas break. The company based in Cambridge, UK shipped the parts out to us just after Boxing Day – a little over 36 hours for printing the master parts from the initial CAD model files! We selected a material called Accura25 which is a mid-range resin material that has the look and feel of moulded polypropylene, has high flexibility with excellent shape retention and was tolerant of the requirements for the fine micron printing needed through the Viper SLA machine.

As you can see from the images in this article, the 3D parts came back not really needing much ‘after print finishing’ and very little was done to the final parts to clean then up and ensure that the surfaces were smooth and ready for the moulding process. This process of cleanup took around 2 hours to do and was a very simple job.

Close up of the Viper PartsNext, we added some ‘greebles’ and detail to the parts to give it more depth and character, but in hindsight, we will add this in during the 3D CAD modelling process.

In the next stage of the process, we talk about how the custom Lighting Kit was designed.

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