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3D Printing Spare Parts, Prototypes and End-Use Parts at the FabLab™

The North Forge FabLab™ is serious about innovation, new advances in 3D Printing, and the additive manufacturing industry! Additive manufacturing technology moves very quickly, and the FabLab will help you to keep pace. If you had a tour a year or more ago, our 3D Printing room at the FabLab has changed, and it’s worth another look.

3D printed pen holder fidget spinner North Forge logo
3D printed at the FabLab: pen holders, fidget spinner, and North Forge logo.

The 3D printing room at the North Forge Fabrication Lab has purposefully accumulated a wide range of materials and 3D printers to meet the various needs of our members. The 3D printers are suitable for rough prototyping to finished high-resolution prototypes, including one printer that produces end-use parts.

Typically, members new to 3D printing will use the Prusa printers that extrude a plastic-like filament called PLA or ABS. These 3D printers are easy to operate. They are used for rough prototyping; however, the produced parts are very smooth.

As you move through the FabLab, you will see an Ultimaker, another filament 3D printer. Ultimaker is known for its use in the education industry, with an easy-to-use slicing software called Cura. The Ultimaker can print anything from a prototype to a manufacturing aid to end-use parts.

Our industrial-quality 3D printers are the Form 2, Form 3, and Stratasys Fortus 400mc.

The Form 2 and 3 are resin printers with engineering-grade materials. They use a technology called SLA or stereolithography. For the manufacturing industry, you can create custom jigs, fixtures, and tools for small-batch manufacturing. An example is the production of precise prototypes with high-temperature resistance, which is ideal for molds and inserts, heat-resistant mounts, housings, and fixtures. Other examples include architectural models, vacuum nozzles, pump housing, spring systems, gear assembly, and dryer attachments. 

Post-processing resin parts are important, and the FabLab is equipped with the Form Wash and Form Cure. The Form Wash cleans parts in an isopropyl alcohol bath, and the Form Cure is part of the post-processing by subjecting the print to the perfect amount of UV light. The result is a perfectly finished part.  Examples of this are connectors, a multi-tool, a rotating arm, or a casting shell.

Jeff Stobbe FabLab Maintenance Manager
Jeff Stobbe, FabLab Maintenance Manager with the Fortus

The Fortus 400mc by Stratasys is our largest additive manufacturing 3D printer and is a production-grade machine. This printer is great for printing large end-use parts for conceptual models and functional prototypes. The Fortus avoids traditional injection molding and creates a product that can go to market and sell as is or use in internal assembly. The part could be a plastic cover or medical model for internal use, or it could be a customized jig or even a fixture. An end-use part such as a plastic clamp can be used on an assembly line to hold parts while they are being put together. The materials are multiple production-grade thermoplastics, such as ABS, Polycarbonate, and high-temperature ULTEM. The Fortus can also print complex geometric shapes and uses production-grade thermoplastics that are engineered to provide accurate, repeatable builds. Examples of this are conceptual models, functional prototypes, manufacturing tools, and end-use parts.

Hand held 3D printing scanner
Calibry 3D Scanner

The FabLab has a recent addition to the 3D printing room, called the Calibry 3D Scanner. This is a hand-held 3D scanner that can capture objects from 30cm to 10m in length. The software, Calibry Nest, works with the scan data to prepare it for printing. It can create parts that are no longer available to purchase and may be impossible to make in traditional manufacturing. Examples include car parts or a hand-carved wooden object that can then be 3D printed.

For more information, sign up for a training class.  Members also have access to take additional training courses not currently listed on meet-ups. 

Join our AMLab, through North Forge, which is part of our four-stage Founders Program, and build your business as you build your prototype. Click the link here for more information. 

Sign up for Fabbaloo, which tracks technology developments in 3D printing. 

Join our Vice President, Marney Stapley, for one of the Winnipeg Women in 3D Printing meetings. Women in 3D Printing is on a mission to close the gender gap in additive manufacturing. Both men and women are welcome to attend. 

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