When we talk about 3D printing, one of the first benefits of the technology that most people will bring up is its ability to create completely custom objects. We aren’t just talking about custom colors and designs, but about designing an object from the ground up tailored to each and every individual’s needs. While 3D printing is great for prototyping, this is one reason why the technology is beginning to make its mark in the creation of end-use products as well.
Sure, 3D printing definitely has an advantage over more traditional injection molding techniques when it comes to creating custom one-off items, but what happens when we need high quality, highly detailed products? Can 3D printing also compete there?
One Russian company, called Invent Prototyping, seems to have that answer –which depicted in a tiny 79.75mm-(3.13 inch)-long model ship, built on a very high quality industrial level 3D printer.
Invent Prototyping is currently one of the oldest rapid prototyping companies located in Russia. They have five professional 3D printers that utilize different technologies, as well as a 3D scanner with an accuracy of +/- 7 microns. Their headquarters are located in Saint Petersburg, although they tell us that they have customers from all around the world. One of these customers recently approached them in order to have a very tiny boat 3D printed, a challenge which the company was certainly up for.
“We used a 3D Systems ProJet 3500 HD Max 3D printer, which uses MutliJet modeling technology. Due to the 16 microns layer thickness, the printing process took about 11 hours,” Valentina Kovaleva of Invent Prototyping tells 3DPrint.com.
As you can see in the photos, the ship, which measures just 15.3mm (0.6 inches) high, has extremely detailed components which all remained intact throughout the printing process. Made up of a hard ABS-like plastic, it is also quite sturdy. This goes to show that 3D printing can hold up quite well when it comes to creating highly detailed end-use products. Of course not all 3D printers are created equal, and the majority of your desktop FFF-based printers would not be capable of this. However, an ever-growing list of companies around the world now offer services using these high end printers from 3D Systems and others, meaning just about everyone can now have access.