Published by Arnot on Thu, 02/02/2012 - 05:39
by Arnot B. Heller, III, Detroit Gun Works
This past week we finally acquired our new additive manufacturing machine, a Stratasys Fortus 250MC Dimension 3D Printer for Rapid Prototyping. We have been interested in additive manufacturing for a little over a year and have had our eyes on putting a machine on our floor, and we were finally able to do it.
As opposed to machining, where we start with a block of metal and cut away the parts that we don't want(subtractive manufacturing), this dimension 3D printer builds our parts from the base up using a form of ABS plastic. We take our CAD designs, place them into the software and the machine starts building. I was very impressed with the ease of use of the machine and the overall cost-savings and efficiency that 3D printing offers.
So the machine came in on Tuesday. We unpacked it, plugged it into our network, installed the software called Insight, and by Tuesday night we were a few hours into the 36 hour build that it required to build our DGW 308 Upper and DGW 308 Lower. After the parts were finished, we had to put them into a bath to clean the support material off, but then the parts were ready to go. We were able to entirely assemble the lower receiver, making sure that all the holes and pockets were in place. In the upper receiver we were able to place a bolt carrier assembly in to test fit and function.
It was essential that we brought this 3D printint technology in-house and learned to use it because we wanted to be able to print portions for any of our parts, even if they were serialized components. Being able to print the designs helps us get the fit and function that we want without having to do all the set-ups on our machine tools, taking time away from making production product.
We will continue to update you on the uses that we find for this machine. We already have another build scheduled with another round of DGW 308 Upper and Lower, and some products we are working on with a new customer on the DGW 15 lower receiver platform. Please contact us if you have a 3D concept that you would like to print/prototype.