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CADD Edge 3D Printing Blog

Faster, Cheaper RTV Silicone Molding Using FDM and PolyJet 3D Printing

Posted by Juan Carlos Gandiaga on July 13, 2015 at 11:15 AM

RTV-Molding-ExamplesAre you creating any parts that are cast using silicone molding? If so, consider how 3D printing can dramatically speed up the process of creating the pattern. Here’s a quick guide to how it works—and the potential benefits.

Casting parts from silicone molds is a three-stage process.

  1. Create a positive physical part of the final design—the pattern. For the typical RTV molding process, the material for the pattern is not subjected to high heat or pressures. However, the surface quality of the final part (assuming no final post-processing) is dictated by the surface finish of this pattern.
  2. Cover the pattern in silicone to form a silicone mold. The mold will be designed to divide into pieces to allow for the pattern to be removed and the final material to be injected.
  3. Casting of the part using the silicone mold. Note that the original pattern is not used for this step. This step can be repeated using the same silicone mold for multiple final parts.

By far, the first step of creating a pattern takes the most time and expense. Traditionally, patterns were machined using a hard or soft material. Due to the often-complex part design desired with silicone molding, this machining process usually takes longer than creating the mold or casting parts.

Waiting a week, for example, for the machine shop to complete the part creates several problems. First, it can be an expensive step. Secondly, due to the time and cost investment the designer will naturally tend to be conservative in the design to minimize the risk of tooling revisions. Finally, while the machined piece can be used for functional testing, the design is already committed and any revisions won’t be in the first molded pieces.

Advantages of 3D Printing the Pattern

Pattern-and-moldInstead of CNC machining the pattern, 3D printing it using FDM or PolyJet technology from Stratasys saves cost—often 50-70% over CNC machining. What’s even better is the turnaround savings of an overnight print (time savings up to 90%). Designers can also use the 3D printed pattern to do quick functional testing, knowing they have time to iterate, allowing for more design freedom and ultimately better designs. The process can also be kept in-house during the prototyping stage.

Creating the pattern on an FDM printer like the Fortus 450mc results in a stable, durable and accurate part made from engineering thermoplastic. To address the surface finish requirements, FDM parts are easily post-processed for the desired finish, including glossy or textures. Simliar performance is possible using PolyJet printers, with the advantage of higher native surface resolution.

In the mold-making process, FDM patterns won’t deflect, even after being stored for months or years. Complex geometries are a best-fit for FDM, especially when there is positional for several design revisions. The part is also able to withstand higher temperatures when needed to accelerate curing of molds.


The steps after creating a 3D printed pattern are identical to traditional silicone mold making and casting. The use of Stratasys technology doesn’t change the process—it just makes it faster and less expensive by fixing a bottleneck. Designers benefit too with more freedom and ultimately, better designs.

Upcoming Webinar on Molding

Ready to learn more about 3D printing and molding? Sign up for our free informative 3D printing webinar “Molding, Casting and Composite Layup Applications” on July 22nd at 10am. Click here to reserve your place and attend for live Q&A!


Stratasys Updates Software for More Material Options on FDM Printers

Posted by Marcus Weddle on June 30, 2015 at 11:26 AM

We’re excited to share with you some new capabilities for Fortus FDM printers from Stratasys. These new features are through a new version of the Insight software, which runs Fortus 250mc and higher printers.

ASA Colors, Now on Fortus 360mc and Up

ASA-Colors-more-printersLet’s begin with the ASA material. If you’ve been to one of our recent events, you’ve likely seen our comparison of ASA versus the ABS material. It’s got better strength characteristics and UV stability for exterior applications. We also found that ASA-printed parts hold detail better, especially in the 0.005" layer resolution mode.

Earlier this year, Stratasys expanded the ASA material to include 10 colors—taking advantage of the better colorfast nature (fade resistance) as another benefit over ABS. However, only a limited number of Fortus printers could run any colors beyond ivory.

That’s changed with Insight 10.4. Now, the Fortus 360mc and up can run any ASA color. We would welcome you to get a sample part in ASA at the 0.005” layer height, and of course in a color that best fits your application! CADD Edge can also work with your own CAD design to give you benchmark results for a variety of printers and materials.

More ULTEM Choices

ULTEM-1010-on-new-printersULTEM is a high-performance thermoplastic that has been catching recent headlines for its inclusion in the Airbus A350 XWB. We also note that ULTEM will soon be deployed into space—not only interior but for exterior parts! This revolutionary material is available in two formulas for select Fortus printers.

The newest, ULTEM 1010, has NSF 51 food-contact certification, and it’s biocompatible with an ISO 10993/USP Class VI certification. The material was introduced last year, but only for the Fortus 900mc printer. Now, ULTEM 1010 is available for the Fortus 400mc as well.

Finally, the Fortus 400mc is getting a new slice height option for the ULTEM 9085 material: 0.013” (13 mil). This allows for thicker walls and ultimately stronger parts—perfect for the high-strength applications ULTEM is designed for.

Insight Update 10.4

All of the above FDM printer feature updates are part of Insight Update 10.4. Insight software is the powerful tool that comes with Fortus 250mc 3D printers and higher. It allows for fine toolpath control and more to help you print better parts, often with less material waste and faster build times.

The new software brings the material options to more printers, but it also has other performance and feature upgrades. Contact us if you need assistance with upgrading, need more information on which printers use Insight, or complete our sample part request form to see the material performance for yourself.

3D Printing Open House Marlborough, MA

Open House in Marlborough, Recording of 3D Printed Injection Mold Talk

Posted by Marcus Weddle on June 19, 2015 at 2:00 PM

Open House in Marlborough, Recording of 3D Printed Injection Mold TalkMark your calendars for July 24th, as we are opening up our headquarters in Marlborough, MA for a day of learning about CAD, 3D printing, and additive manufacturing. The event starts at 8:30, with regularly scheduled presentations.

Click here to sign up for the Open House!

New On-demand Video On Injection Molding

We are also pleased to share one of our previous presentations by David Stockbower. He spoke at our Open House earlier this month on 3D printing prototype injection mold tooling. Watch the video below and learn more about this exciting new application.

Open House in Marlborough, Recording of 3D Printed Injection Mold Talk

David covers the basics of creating injection mold tooling, such as which printers are compatible, and the recommended parameters such as shot size and clamping force. He concludes the presentation with the advanced topic of inserts for handling undercuts and other complex geometries in the mold.

David will also present at the upcoming Open House, so be sure to attend and participate in the live Q&A during the sessions! We will have printers on display as well, with a range of parts that will spark discussion about how this technology can work in your organization. Sign up today!

  3D Printing Open House Marlborough, MA



Event Video: Injection Molding, Eden260VS, and Carbon Fiber Layup

Posted by Marcus Weddle on June 17, 2015 at 3:06 PM

Event Video: Injection Molding, Eden260VS, and Carbon Fiber LayupLast week CADD Edge was exhibiting in New York City in a combination event of manufacturing, medical, and packaging shows. We were in the Atlantic Design & Manufacturing show section with CAD and 3D printing/additive manufacturing on display. Nearby in the Stratasys booth, we caught up with Nadav Sella (Director of Manufacturing Tools) and Cory Haas (Application Engineer). Watch the videos below for coverage of several hot topics in the 3D printing industry!

Event Video: Injection Molding, Eden260VS, and Carbon Fiber Layup

Event Video: Injection Molding, Eden260VS, and Carbon Fiber Layup


In the first video, Nadav gives us a description of the emerging application of 3D printing injection mold tooling. For short-run prototyping of small items, this is an excellent resource to drastically cut initial design validation time using the unique properties of PolyJet technology.

Event Video: Injection Molding, Eden260VS, and Carbon Fiber Layup

Be sure to watch to the end for footage of the part being ejected from the machine, complete with ejector pins and a bin filled with parts created using a single 3D printed mold. The injection molding machine is a German-built BOY XS 11-ton press, and the material is Delrin (POM) thermoplastic.

Want more detail on this application? Take a look at our recorded webinar with Nadav on our on-demand 3D printing webinars page.

In the second video, Cory shows us parts from the new Objet Eden260VS featuring the first-ever soluble support removal system for PolyJet 3D printers. He also shows us some carbon-fiber parts created using 3D printed soluble cores on FDM-based Fortus printers. This application is perfect for automotive, marine/boating, and aerospace applications.

Be sure to sign up for our next live event in July: the 3D Printing Open House at CADD Edge headquarters in Marlborough! The event is July 24th and will feature talks including prototype injection mold tooling and several 3D printing and additive manufacturing technologies.

3D Printing Open House Marlborough, MA


1,000 3D Printed Parts on Airbus A350 XWB Using Additive Manufacturing

Posted by Marcus Weddle on June 8, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Additive manufacturing has made some significant milestones recently, thanks to FDM technology from Stratasys. We want to share the first of several stories on how FDM-based Fortus 3D printers are advancing additive manufacturing in the aerospace industry, and in doing so, proving that the advanced materials available, such as ULTEM, are truly revolutionizing how products are manufactured.

1,000 3D Printed Parts on Airbus A350 XWB Using Additive Manufacturing

We begin with commercial air travel. Aircraft maker Airbus has revealed that its latest A350 XWB airliner has over 1,000 3D printed FDM parts—a first for commercial air travel. The first examples of this aircraft were delivered to Qatar Airways in December 2014, and so are already carrying passengers around the globe!

Due to the high level of competitive secrecy among airline manufacturers, this news has only been revealed recently. In fact, the parts themselves have only been described as coverings and fasteners to date. However, the quantity of 3D printed parts (1,000+ per aircraft) has surprised the industry with a clear indication that Airbus trusts the performance of Stratasys' Fortus platform.

While this public news is recent, the behind-the-scenes work began in 2013—primarily as a solution to a real-world problem all manufacturers face: time-to-market. Simply put, Airbus needed the speed of additive manufacturing to meet delivery commitments.

More Speed, Less Weight and Waste

Yet, speed isn’t the only benefit of 3D printing. In the case of parts in flight, the FDM parts weigh much less than their traditionally-manufactured (often metal) counterparts. This high strength-to-weight ratio comes thanks to ULTEM 9085 resin, a high-performance engineering material used for the Airbus A350 XWB parts. It carries FST (flame, smoke, and toxicity) compliance and underwent Airbus-specific qualification for flight-ready parts. ULTEM is available on a range of the Stratasys Fortus printers, available from CADD Edge.

1,000 3D Printed Parts on Airbus A350 XWB Using Additive ManufacturingStratasys Executive Vice President Dan Yalon summed up ULTEM’s strength by noting, “Additive manufacturing greatly improves the buy-to-fly ratio as significantly less material is wasted.” Because additive manufacturing adds only material needed for the part, along with some support material for overhangs, 90% less material is used versus traditional methods according to Airbus. This means less cost for material and less fuel as the aircraft flight weight is reduced.

What’s next for Stratasys and additive manufacturing? More parts on airliners for sure, but also increasingly critical components of the aircraft—eventually leading to parts that replace assemblies with a single 3D-printed part featuring integrated components. This innovation isn't limited to aerospace either, as other manufacturing industries learn about the advances Stratasys has made in 3D printing.

Subscribe to our 3D printing blog (the form is on the sidebar) to keep up to date on what is happening with this rapid advancement of additive manufacturing. In our next post on the aerospace industry, we’ll head into space with rockets that use FDM 3D parts to replace a series of traditional assemblies.


3D Printing Webinar Recordings


EASTEC Highlights: PolyJet 3D printing and FDM High Resolution

Posted by Juan Carlos Gandiaga on May 26, 2015 at 3:57 PM

Watch CADD Edge application engineer Juan Carlos Gandiaga show you two demonstration pieces we had on display at the EASTEC 2015 show in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

EASTEC Highlights: PolyJet 3D printing and FDM High Resolution

He first showed our 3D printed CADD Edge and EASTEC combined logo, which was selected for the logo exhibition. It has a range of Shore A values within the part, in addition to variable transparency. This was printed on a PolyJet system with Connex3 technology.

Juan Carlos also explains two parts that compare the highest resolution in both PolyJet (16-micron layer thickness or 0.0006") and FDM at 0.005" layer thickness. While the PolyJet part has higher layer resolution, the FDM part shows similar visible resolution on the fine details, holds to similar accuracy and has the advantage of true engineering plastic strength. FDM printers that can handle the 0.005" layer thickness and ASA material start with the Stratasys Fortus 360mc and new Fortus 380mc 3D printers.

3D Printing Webinar Recordings


HP Multi Jet Fusion Car Lift VS PolyJet Digital ABS 3D Printing

Posted by Marcus Weddle on May 22, 2015 at 12:00 PM

MJF-PolyJet-liftsAs we reported on earlier, HP’s announcement last year of a new 3D printing technology, Multi Jet Fusion, warranted some fact checking. For this post, we’re focusing on part strength.

Claim: HP's technology is uniquely strong and prints fast

The source of the claim is an HP video1 showing a 3D printed chain link—about the size of a fist—lifting a car. Yes, it’s a great video to dramatically show strength. The inferred claim, however, is that the speed of printing this part plus its strength are unique to HP's technology.

Of course, the best comparison would be to simply replicate a similar demonstration, but using current production technology. Well, that's exactly what we want to share with you! Watch the video below.


Keep in mind that while HP’s technology is said to be coming next year, the Stratasys 3D printing technology in this van lift video is available today. In fact, it has been available for several years!

About PolyJet 3D Printing Technology

What we’re talking about is PolyJet 3D printing technology by Stratasys, and specifically the Digital ABS material available on Objet Connex2 and Connex3 printers (it’s also available on earlier Connex machines and the new Objet1000 Plus). What's great about PolyJet is it's fast—using similar inkjet-like print heads to HP's upcoming technology.

CADD Edge could print the link shown on our office-friendly Objet260 Connex in an afternoon. While we admit this isn't as fast as claimed by HP's version (30 minutes), that's still a turnaround perfect for design-test-iterate cycles. Keep in mind that for manufacturing purposes, multiple links can be created on the same build tray (notice in the video two links are printed). Putting the link on the new Objet1000 Plus would allow for even faster prints and quite a large number of parts batch-printed with its 39.4"x31.5"x19.7" build tray.


More Features

While we are all for displays of strength, Digital ABS is a versatile material with several other benefits. One of those is the ability to withstand the rigors of low-run injection mold processes—something that a Nylon material (what HP’s printer reportedly initially will use2) likely wouldn’t stand up to.

Need more strength than ABS? Stratasys FDM printers offer stronger materials including the ultimate high-strength thermoplastic: ULTEM.

So while we don't dispute the direct claims of HP's video as the Multi Jet Fusion technology, we would suggest that existing PolyJet technology has speed and strength—and is available today.

Ready to see the technology in person? Come to our Connecticut Open House event on June 4th. Or visit our booth at an upcoming trade show (click here for the schedule).

1HP Video “HP Multi Jet Fusion Technology 3D Printed Chain Lifts Car” 
2Gigaom article “HP promises a fast enterprise 3D printer for 2016 that will cost…something” end of article

3D Printing Open House Marlborough, MA



Design & Manufacturing New England, 3D Printing Highlights Video

Posted by Juan Carlos Gandiaga on May 19, 2015 at 3:47 PM

Earlier this month, CADD Edge exhibited at Design & Manufacturing New England. Watch as applications engineer Juan Carlos Gandiaga takes you though three examples of 3D printing from the show:

Design & Manufacturing New England, 3D Printing Highlights Video
  • 3D printed Boston downtown model, printed on our Stratasys uPrint FDM 3D printer right in the booth. The printer uses ABS in a variety of colors for durable and functional parts.
  • Objet Connex3 heart. This is one of many parts that’s very impressive in person, so be sure to visit one of our future events to see it yourself! The heart contains three materials, but with mixes for a range of Shore values, color and transparency.
  • Prototyping on Objet printers. Juan Carlos shows two examples: one is a headlamp with post-processed parts for realistic prototyping, including the circuit board and LEDs. He also shows a part before and after post-processing using the extreme performance ULTEM material.

Watch the video to learn more!

3D Printing for Medical Webinar


3D Printing Sacrificial Cores for Carbon Fiber Composite Layups

Posted by Juan Carlos Gandiaga on May 4, 2015 at 3:29 PM

Carbon-Fiber-tube-and-coreWe want to tell you about a great application for our Stratasys FDM printers: 3D printing sacrificial cores. This is perfect for creating composite parts (such as hollow carbon fiber auto parts) with higher precision than traditional methods. Perhaps the best part is that it doesn’t require much complexity or expense on the 3D printing side, and the results are arguably better than you get with traditional methods. You’re getting the end-use part, in the real composite material, but with more design flexibility and smooth surfaces inside and out.

Here’s a quick explanation of how 3D printing sacrificial cores works (or watch the videos below). It all starts with the end-use part, say a carbon-fiber turbo inlet tube for a car, being designed in 3D CAD. The hollow part is then filled in the CAD system to make a solid core model. It’s this core as a mold—not the end-use tube—that we will 3D print.


Our core CAD model is now 3D printed in a soluble material. If you’re familiar with FDM printing, you’ve probably already guessed that we can simply use the “support” material for the model itself. Typically, support material is used during printing to support overhangs, but then gets dissolved away after the part is removed. Here, we actually keep the support material, because it’s our mold for wrapping in carbon fiber. It’s as easy as clicking an option in the FDM printer software! You can choose a solid mold fill, or sparse for faster printing and quicker removal.

So our 3D printed soluble core part is now printed and ready for composite layup and curing. What’s great about the 3D printed core is it can have complex geometry that would be difficult or impossible to create using traditional core methods. After the carbon fiber (with the 3D printed core inside) is cured, the soluble core is dissolved away.

The result? An end-use part carbon fiber tube that looks smooth on the outside and inside—all thanks to 3D printing. Ready to learn more? Watch these videos and see the process in action!

After seeing this application, you might start thinking of ways to incorporate this technique on your process. From large-scale parts, like seen in these videos, to small scales such as 1mm diameter soluble cores can be achieved. Here’s a bit more detail on why this technique is actually better than the traditional method.

Why 3D Printed Sacrificial Cores Are Better (Big Benefits)

Typically, sacrificial cores are made from eutectic salt, ceramic or urethane. These options present several challenges:

  • Can limit part geometry
  • Requires machined tooling to make
  • Uses harsh removal procedures

The impact of 3D printing soluble cores on manufacturing and time will be noticeable at any scale:

Average lead time savings: 50% – 85% from design to final part

Average cost savings: 75% – 95% from design to final part

Core-carbon-fiber-wrappedReduced labor:

  • Less tooling and setup
  • No bonding of composite sections
  • Hands-free core manufacturing

Improved composite parts:

  • Single-piece construction
  • More features, including integrated hardware
  • Control over surface finish and accuracy
  • Core only: part’s internal surfaces
  • Core and mold: part’s internal and external surfaces

Lower risk:

  • Minimal investment
  • Easier to modify
  • Greater durability
  • Improved consistency
  • Higher part yield

Ready to learn more? Contact us to discuss how you can create more robust, complex cores that result in composite parts with improved performance and functionality!

3D Printing Webinar Recordings

3D Printing at 2015 Design2Part Show: ASA, Digital ABS and Nylon

Posted by Marcus Weddle on April 28, 2015 at 9:57 AM

Last week CADD Edge exhibited 3D printing at the Design2Part show in Pennsylvania. Watch this video as Kevin Billett gives you some highlights!

Highlights Video
  • 16-inch tall Lincoln statue. Printed on the Fortus 450mc in ASA ivory at .010” layer height.
  • FDM finishing samples. Using post-processing, FDM parts can be painted or vapor smoothed for different effects.
  • PolyJet for prototype molding. The unique properties of the Digital ABS material—unique to Objet printers with PolyJet technology—gives users the ability to print low-volume injection or blow mold tooling.
  • Nylon material for jigs and fixtures. The FDM Nylon material is a great fit for both jigs/fixtures and snap-fit assemblies. Here, Kevin shows a part that combines both.

Click the video to watch!

Video Thumbnail-hidden

PolyJet Essentials Webinar


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