Management giving you a timeline to get a quote fast? Finding it cumbersome to go through the RFQ process?
FRET NOT! Here are a few tips and tricks you can use to obtain faster quote and engage in a more productive conversation with your AM vendor or manufacturer. Remember, companies do customer qualification and validation to ensure that they are entertaining a legitimate enquiry. Following these guidelines can help you get qualified faster as well as kickstart the discussion and help in a much faster RFQ process.
First, prepare a list of items to submit below. Trust us, they’ll help your AM manufacturer revert to you in the shortest time possible!
3D models in universal CAD formats – Most designs can be created in a wide range of formats by a wide range of programs. A good manufacturer will have a program that can ideally convert and read any proprietary file into one that is more usable. However, this isn’t always guaranteed as when translating from one file type to another there is always some loss of data. A good way to ensure that nothing critical was lost in the RFQ process is to do the conversion yourself into a file type that your supplier is comfortable with or in a more universal file neutral one. STEP and IGES are always preferred and are almost always accepted and can be optimised and built on if needed.
2D drawings or marked dimensions in 3D – Despite moving to 3D space, 2D drawings are another fall back to depend on especially if additional information such as critical features, post processing instructions and tolerances need specifying or detail. Most 2D drawings are sent over as pdf files or images with the former having the advantage of being more legible as zooming in does reduce image quality for image files. A recent venture is to use 3D pdf files or CAD models that have the tolerances/ info specified on 3D movable model overcoming the viewability restrictions of the 2D drawing while adding in colour and other options. Remember – most companies will use the 3D CAD as a true reference unless instructed or provided with a drawing or document instructing otherwise.
Material requirements – 3D printing covers a wide range of technologies and processes. Each of them have their own strengths, weakness and material restrictions. While the material pool and selection has grown from strength to strength, it is quite rare to find a supplier that offers a huge range of materials and technologies to chose from. Remember to have a look at the company’s capabilities first and find out if a material is available on the market. A quick google search can go a long way to having a more productive discussion.
Post processing requirements: Colour – Only a limited number of printers on the market offer a full multi-colour prints. Raw materials used to print out articles can have a colour themselves especially in the case of fused deposition based technologies. Most other technologies would need colour painted or anodised on after printing is complete. Its good practice to specify a RAL or HEX or Pantone code when mentioning the colour as there are various shades. Do keep in mind that this colouring may not be uniform can have deviations.
Post processing requirements: Surface finishing – Parts coming off the printer have their layers visible to a certain extent depending on the settings used. Finer layers are more difficult to make out but usually result in larger print times and a price premium. Nevertheless, these can be finished further to better finished by using various techniques such as bead/sand blasting, sandpapering and polishing. If you aren’t sure or don’t have a specific roughness value in mind you can use: i) as built, ii) sand/bead blasted, iii) sanded to XX grit, iv) polished
So there, here concludes the first part (of two) on how to get your RFQ for your 3D printing job smoother and potentially faster! Stay tuned for the next post for additional tips!