Reverse engineering & 3D printing in stainless steel

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When our customer Hellersaker Sludge extraction contacted us, they had long had problems with a plastic component of the equipment constantly breaking. This caused a lot of extra work as epoxy leaked into their facility which needed to be taken care of. The question we got was: Can we 3d scan and 3d print this part in stainless steel?

The detail in question is about 7 cm large and has relatively high complexity with curved pipe channels.


3D scanning or construction in CAD

As the customer did not have a 3d file of the detail, we recreated it through something called "reverse engineering". Reverse engineering involves measuring the detail and then creating a file that can be 3d printed, and this can be done by physically measuring the detail and recreating it in CAD or by 3d scanning the detail. Since the detail consisted of many small but relatively simple features and internal pipe channels, the choice fell on measuring the detail and recreating it in CAD. A detail that can be constructed in CAD usually results in a better print with better tolerances than the corresponding 3d-scanned detail. However, if it is difficult to measure a detail where the detail, for example, consists of free-form surfaces, 3d scanning is preferable. A misconception among many is that 3D scanning is a simple process, but what many do not know is that a lot of work is required to make the scanned part manufacturable.


Why 3d-print the detail in stainless steel with DMLS?

Stainless steel is a cost-effective and durable material that withstands many chemicals and environments. We offer stainless steel with two types of processes – Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) and Binder Jetting. Due to the relatively large size and design of the part, the choice to manufacture with DMLS was obvious and Binder Jetting was never an option. If the detail had been smaller or if it had had an obvious stable foundation to stand on, Binder Jetting would also have been a possible manufacturing process.


Result – Reverse engineering and 3d printing in stainless steel

This process of reverse engineering and 3d printing in stainless steel resulted in a detail that no longer breaks. Hellersåker Sludge vacuum cleaners no longer have to spend unnecessary time cleaning up after the mess that arises after their detail breaks, but can now focus on the main chores instead. The customer is happy, and so are we!

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A CAD program, which stands for "Computer-Aided Design," is an important component when it comes to ordering 3D prints for industrial purposes. CAD programs are specialized software used to create detailed and accurate digital models of objects, components or prototypes. These digital models serve as basic blueprints or designs needed to produce physical objects using 3D printing technology.

.STL (stereolithography) is a file format used to represent 3D geometry, especially surfaces made up of triangles. It is a common format in 3D printing and is used to describe models to be printed in 3D printers.

.STEP (Standard for the Exchange of Product Data) is a standard for exchanging 3D models and product data between different CAD (Computer-Aided Design) programs. It is a common format in industry and is used to transfer detailed 3D models of components and products.