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3D Modeling & CAD for Motorsport: 3D Printing

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3D Printing


00:00 - In this module, we're going to be looking at rapid prototyping using 3D printing technology.
00:05 For clarity's sake, rapid prototyping refers to a group of manufacturing techniques used to produce 3D designs from CAD data quickly but we'll be focusing on the 3D printing side of things here.
00:19 The key benefit here is in reducing development costs as these methods allow us to prototype designs, in some cases up to production quality, while avoiding the high cost associated with the production of small batches.
00:33 What this really means is that we can quickly and efficiently produce the prototype of our design and then use this to better understand its fit and appearance as well as test its function.
00:45 3D printing, sometimes also referred to as additive manufacturing, has become the go to process for rapid prototyping.
00:53 This works by heating up filament material through an extruder and laying down many thin layers on top of each other from the nozzle.
01:02 These layers stick together to build up a 3D structure.
01:05 3D printing is becoming very accessible with quality printers now down in the range of just a few hundred dollars.
01:13 Once set up, the cost of printing parts is also very low.
01:17 3D printing is typically done using polymers due to the ease of manufacturing and therefore cost as well as providing good strength and stiffness.
01:27 However, the methods that allow the printing of metals and ceramics are evolving quickly and this means that 3D printing is not only useful for prototyping, but producing final versions of plastic, metal and ceramic parts in small quantities.
01:44 In automotive and motorsport applications, this process is very commonly used for part development in a wide range of different areas of a vehicle.
01:53 From prototyping brackets and spacers to producing interior parts like a handbrake lever for example, even up to the level of turbo manifolds 3D printed from inconel.
02:05 As we discussed in the earlier output file module, STL files which represent the model as a mesh, are generally used for 3D printing.
02:14 However 3MF files are becoming a more popular option and will likely become the standard in the future as they contain more information for printing parts with texture and appearance consideration through more complex printers.
02:28 The majority of the time, a slicer or slicing software is used to convert a 3D model in the form of a mesh into instructions to drive the printer such as G code.
02:39 The slicer essentially divides the 3D model up into layers and describes the linear movement of the printer for each of these layers.
02:48 The slicer will also help define the infill requirements for inside solid parts, supports for overhanging areas and rafts, skirts and brims to help print the part on the printer bed.
03:01 Depending on what printer you have access to, there's usually an associated slicing software.
03:07 However, we now have the ability to slice and 3D print directly within Fusion 360 so that's going to be what we're doing in this module.
03:16 If you have a 3D printer and the slicing software to go with it, I recommend you try using it to print a part and then print the same part using Fusion 360 to see what method gives better results.
03:30 Some slicers are very intuitive and produce good results but others aren't so great, it just depends on what printer you're using.
03:39 Let's now look at 3D printing the same role centre spacer we discussed in the CAM module, you can find a link to download the model underneath this video module if you want to follow along.
03:50 This is a fairly simple part but it does feature some overhangs that will require a support structure to be printer underneath them.
03:58 Being able to print this means we can test fit it in place between the bottom of the strut and the steering knuckle which is attached to the lower control arm via a ball joint.
04:08 This way, we can check if the part fits without any issues and even measure the resulting bump steer in case we wanted to make modifications to the spacer before it's machined from aluminium.
04:19 We'll be printing this with PLA using our Creality CR10S Pro printer.
04:26 With the model open in Fusion 360, if we planned on using a different slicing software, there are a few options available for exporting a mesh file.
04:37 The simplest method, as we've covered in a previous module, is using the export function under the file tab and selecting the file export type we want.
04:46 For a little more control over the mesh file, we can look at the mesh toolbar under the export icon or in the utilities tab under the make icon, both of which take you to the same 3D print pop up window.
04:59 In the 3D print window, we first want to select the body we want to print, then we have the option to choose from a few suitable format types, being 3MF, STL binary, ASCII and also OBJ.
05:12 For our example, an STL binary file will be sufficient and the binary version is generally smaller and better for 3D printing compared to ASCII.
05:22 For units, we'll leave these as millimetres as this is what we used for our design.
05:28 We can also choose to refine the mesh.
05:31 For a simple part like ours that'll just be used for basic checks, we might want to leave this as the default or even go to a lower level of refinement in order to keep the file sizes small and speed up the process.
05:44 However, for more complex parts that we want to get a really good finished result, we may want to set the mesh refinement to a higher level.
05:53 Finally, if we check the centre print utility box, we can basically skip the export step and send the mesh straight to our chosen slicing software.
06:03 If it's our first time doing this, we'll need to click the folder icon and find the slicer application on our computer.
06:11 Otherwise, we can deselect this and export the mesh to any location on our computer.
06:17 Alternatively, as we discussed earlier, we can slice our design and prepare it for printing directly in Fusion 360.
06:25 This is done from the manufacture workspace and from working with the tools under the additive toolbar.
06:32 As usual with Fusion 360, we generally work from left to right along the toolbar and the first step will be creating a new setup.
06:40 For the setup, we want to select our machine from the Fusion 360 library which in our case is the Creality CR10S Pro.
06:50 If you're familiar with the machine that you'll be using, it's worth clicking the edit button and just checking that the settings look correct at this point.
06:58 Under print settings, we want to select the filament material we plan on using.
07:04 We'll go with ABS 1.75 mm for our example.
07:09 Operation type is going to stay as additive and arrangement type 2D is the only option for our printing machine.
07:16 Then we just need to make sure we have the solid body selected for the manufacturing model and click OK.
07:22 Now we can see our model has been moved to the centre of the printing bed.
07:26 The orientation of the part has a big impact on the finish and the strength of the finished part.
07:32 The part will generally be the most fragile when there's tension between the printed layers so we need to consider the forces on the part when positioning it for printing.
07:43 We also want to minimise print time and the use of support material while trying to get the best surface finish and bed adhesion, meaning the first layers lay down nicely on the print bed.
07:54 In our case, for our relatively simple part, it's clear to see that it's in the ideal orientation as is.
08:01 But if it wasn't, we could use the move tools or other position tools to reorientate the body on the surface using the automatic or minimise build height functions.
08:12 In the automatic orientation function, we can set the parameters we want to achieve as well as the factors that are most important to us under the ranking tab.
08:22 Then we can right click the automatic functions under the browser and look at the different orientation results that Fusion 360 suggests.
08:31 This is a lot more helpful with an irregular shaped part without flat surfaces and with lots of overhangs.
08:38 If you already have a lot of experience with 3D printing then you may want to change the print and support settings if you've found different settings that you've had success from.
08:47 But generally the defaults for our machine and material are going to be a good starting point.
08:53 At this stage, we're mostly done, we already have a tool path that we can use the simulate function to view.
09:00 As with other tool paths, this is colour coded and the colour key is shown on the bottom right of the screen, defining what kind of structure is being printed, like support, infill, raft and so on.
09:12 Lastly we use the post process function to export the tool path G code to a folder on our computer and then we can use this in our printer software to produce the part.
09:24 To recap what we've just covered, 3D printing or additive manufacturing is a form of rapid prototyping that allows us to quickly make our designs for testing purposes or even as the final product in the right circumstances.
09:39 This technology is developing quickly and quality printers and quality printers are already very accessible.
09:45 With some thought put into the structural and material requirements, we can design and make parts for use in a wide range of applications in our vehicle.
09:54 In Fusion 360, we can export our designs as mesh files in 3MF, STL or OBJ formats and then we can either use a slicing software to prepare the model for printing and create the tool path for the machine, or we can actually complete the slicing and tool path generation from within Fusion 360 in the manufacturing workspace.
10:17 This process is relatively simple and mostly involves selecting the machine and material we plan on using as well as determining the model orientation that will be ideal for printing.
10:28 Then we can export our tool path G code file and use that to 3D print our design in the machine we specified.

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