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Jun 9

Tech Thursday: Maximizing Fortus Throughput with Insight

The reliabiliy and repeatability of the Fortus additive manufacturing platform facilitates these printers having the highest throughput in the industry. For prototyping, custom tooling, low-volume production, and more, Stratasys' Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) technology facilitates the creation of robust, accurate parts with unmatched part-in-hand time. This being said, there are instances where one may be required to print multiple copies of the same part, with quantities exceeding the allowable size in the build platform.

For mid-volume production, or applications specifically requiring additive technologies, there are a few options. One might outsource the overflow work, but this drives up both lead times and cost of production, accompanied by the uncertainy associated with out-of-house production. In these instances, we may leverage the large capacity fo Fortus machines to stack parts for printing; whilst not applicable for every part, this is a great way to increase the productivity of your machine, or prevent any downtime over a long weekend. In today's Tech Thursday post, our team of Applications Specialists have provided their personal recommendations, as well as outlining the individual steps in Insight. This procedure is applicable to all printers in the Fortus family, including the 250mc, 380mc, 450mc, and the 900mc.

Initial Considerations

When processing files, it is always better to try and make any modifications to your part in your native CAD program, versus to the STL file in Insight. For example, it is far less time consuming to stack your parts in CAD; when compared to working in Insight, stacking parts in CAD takes fewer steps and allows you greater control regarding the orientation of your stacked parts, and the spacing between the parts. Furthermore, there are further considerations one must take when looking to increase throughput on the machine, such as materials used for model/support, and part complexity.

For example, stacking parts when utilizing breakaway supports is only an ideal solution for simple, tough components, as any fragile or small component are very likely to be broken during the removal process. Another consideration is the total time it will require to remove the supports from a stacked build envelope; again, with breakway supports, it may take longer to remove the support material from stacked components, than to simply print one component after another.

In summation, there are four important considerations when deciding to stack parts for increased throughput:
  • Complexity of Components: At Cimetrix, we reserve stacking for simple, boxy, or durable components
  • Type of Model & Support material: Part stacking works optimally when printing with materials leveraging soluble supports, such as ABS, ASA, Nylon, and PC
  • Diversity of Components: When possible, it is always better to stack multiple copies of the same part, versus stacking different parts on top of each other
  • Availibility of CAD data: If possible, it is generally better to work in CAD software than in Insight

Stacking Parts in Insight

Upon meeting the complexity and material requirements, we will turn to Insight to perform the necessary procedure for stacking parts when the CAD data is not availible, or a CAD program is not accessible. The below procedure will outline the steps for building one (or more) parts on top of each other:

  1. Import STL file into Insight
  2. Select build parameters
    1. Orientation
    2. Material
    3. Slice height

Note: ensure that these have been selected correctly, as changing one of the above parameters will require restarting the process from the beginning

  1. Slice part
  1. Determine height of tallest Z Layer
    1. Navigate to topmost later, and its height will be displayed
  1. Select the Move/Rotate Menu, and set parameters for copying the part
    1. Ensure “Move by XYZ” is selected
    2. Set Z Distance
      • Z distance = (Z value from Step 4) + 0.05”
    3. Ensure “Yes” is selected under the “Keep Original” menu

  1. Select part curves by displaying all part curves, and then highlighting
    1. Curves will appear white when highlighted
  1. Click “Ok”, and the copy should be present above the original part with a 0.050” gap in between
  1. If only copying once, continue processing the part as normal: Generate Supports, Generate Toolpaths, Send Part to Printer (Or, hit the green flag button). If copying more than once, see Steps 9-12
  2. Set parameters for copying the part (as per Step 4)
    1. Ensure “Move by XYZ” is selected
    2. Set Z Distance
      • Z distance = (New Z-Top Value) + 0.05”
    3. Ensure “Yes” is selected under the “Keep Original” menu
  3. Select part curves by displaying all part curves, and then highlighting
    1. Curves will appear white when highlighted
    2. Ensure only a single part is selected
    3. Ensure the top part is selected
  1. Click “Ok”, and the new copy should be present above the previous copy with a 0.050” gap in between
  1. Repeat steps 9-11 for every copy to be made
  2. Once finished, continue processing the part as per normal procedures (outlined in Step 8)

The ability to stack parts is just one of the many in-depth processing features possible with Insight software - this software, exclusive to the Fortus family of additive manufacturing technologies, allows unparalleled control when processing models, and is the driving force behind the extensive capabilities these printers possess. Having worked with industry-leading Stratasys technologies for over 22 years, our team of Applications Specialists is fully equipped to help you optimize your additive manufacturing. From advanced application consultation, to an entire range of industry-leading additive manufaturing technologies, Cimetrix Solutions has the tools and expertise to ensure you get the most from your additive manufacturing ventures. To learn more, please contact us!