Product development is speeding up, which is causing design rules to change. DMLS (direct metal laser sintering) is a great example of this. A considerable amount of potential exists for direct metal laser sintering in the medical device sector. Early in the design process, however, a new mindset is required. This represents one of the transitions designers have to make when implementing new technologies to make manufacturing and designing medical devices more efficient and effective.
Time and cost can be saved by prototyping designs in unusual shapes. The main difference between DMLS and other 3D printing is that real metal is used. Materials like these have been used for industrial applications for decades.
Design professionals like this process because they can experiment with organic shapes that cannot easily be machined. Developing implantable body parts that are custom-fit to the recipient, for instance, is an intriguing prospect. A delicate five-axis machine would be required to build these implants. A direct DMLS replacement can be printed by scanning a person’s actual bone structure.
Surgical tools in organic shapes are also an opportunity. Depending on the application, these devices may be designed for metal injection molding or casting, both of which have relatively high tooling costs and lead times that can range for weeks. Using 3-D printing, we can produce accurate prototypes of surgical hand tools. Most of the time, it can reach a surgeon within 3 to 5 days. It’s still more expensive per piece for higher quantities to use traditional injection molding, but it’s still a lot slower than a couple of days for a smaller quantity.
For experimentation, design, and seeing what works, it’s critical to have the attributes of time, cost savings, and freedom of design. The engineering cycle can be shortened to only a couple of days for both of these types of products.
It does, however, require a different way of thinking. During the design phase, you have to approach it differently. During the construction process, one of the biggest adjustments is how to cope with internal stresses. It involves melting a metal powder at room temperature, followed by rapid cooling. During the construction process, there is rapid change that puts stress on all layers. During construction, the part bends upwards.
As a method of minimizing the unwanted effects of this process, determining which orientation will yield the most consistent cross-sectional surface area is essential (deciding how the part should be positioned during various phases of the build), along with adding structural support elements generated during the build.
Following construction, each part undergoes a stress relief cycle in a furnace. This prevents the parts from warping after being removed from the structural supports and build plate. It is also important to take building support out of the build plan. It is crucial to arrange parts so that support removal can be achieved with hand tools or secondary machining.
The Layers app provides design guidelines to help its customers identify red flags during design. During the evaluation, each part is evaluated for overall printability, and when necessary, adjustments are made to the design. It is crucial for the designer to know how the piece should be oriented during construction when designing specifically for the DMLS.
Initially, you must think about tool paths and parting lines. Design for DMLS must focus on using as little material as possible, as well as integrating self-supporting features. We at Layers.app have created an excellent design guide to help get new users pointed in the right direction.