3D Printing End Use Parts
A great example of end-use part production is the Aleph Objects print cluster. A true testiment to the reliability of Lulzbot 3D printers is the fact that they have over 155 Lulzbot printers printing parts for their new machines every day. In fact, they just produced their two millionth part using their printer farm.
Each LulzBot 3D printer contains over thirty printed parts. The 2-millionth part, a Z-axis Carriage Idler that faclitates smooth tool head motion across the Z- and X-axis, was printed unceremoniously, and then the Cluster moved on to start printing the next million. If this seems at all weird and slightly sci-fi to you, you’re on the right track. Machines making machines, evolving in real-time, but fortunately without the impending Hollywood Armageddon. In reality, this is how some of the most reliable 3D printers on the planet are made - from themselves.
Since a variety of parts are needed during production, flexibility is essential to the Cluster's success in meeting those demands. “The alternative to having Cluster producing those parts would be injection molding everything, but the injection molding cost for a die could be thousands of dollars and upward,” Stan Middlekauff, Cluster production supervisor, said. “With the Cluster now in place, the up-front cost has been paid for us to make any type of part. Plus, if at any moment in time we need to change a part, we can change it quickly.”
From when the Cluster began operating in 2011, it took nearly 5 years to print the first million production-grade parts. Since then, it’s only taken a year and a half to reach the 2 million mark – an indication of the increased efficiency and speed of production supporting demand for LulzBot 3D Printers. With two to four trained professionals monitoring the Cluster at all times, daily production can range anywhere from 1,000 to 15,000 parts and use 45 to 50 kilograms of ABS plastic in the process.