One of the lauded benefits of 3D printed parts is reduction in weight. The design freedom associated with 3D printing and additive manufacturing allows designers to make geometries not possible with conventional manufacturing and consolidate multiple parts of a product into one. This consolidation and complexity of design can result in lighter-weight parts that are easier to handle and fit into final projects.
Stratasys Direct has taken this key advantage of 3D printing and pushed it even further with ID-Light (Industrial Design Light). ID-Light is a proprietary build style that features a scaffolding-like internal structure, available with both Stereolithography (SL) and Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM). The process allows for printing of large and rigid geometries at only 1/12 the weight and in a fraction of the time.
Large marketing pieces built with ID-Light are easy to handle at 1/12 the weight.
SL and FDM build ID-Light differently because of the technology utilized to 3D print. SL builds a part by using an ultraviolet (UV) laser to cure liquid photopolymers layer by layer. FDM extrudes engineering-grade thermoplastic filament layer by layer.
So which technology is the right for your ID-Light part? As with every 3D print job, it’s all about the application. SL is ideal for highly-cosmetic pieces because of a higher resolution which translates to a smoother outer surface. FDM ID-Light produces more durable parts with strong thermoplastics and thicker layers.
Marketing pieces, architectural models, large detailed props and art installation objects would be ideal applications for SL ID-Light due to the ease of applying cosmetic finishes such as sanding, painting, texturing and decaling. SL ID-Light parts are often utilized as presentation and concept models, especially for large-scale custom trade-show and marketing figures. The ease of handling means production-looking parts that are easy to transfer to tradeshows and sets and comfortable for movers, set designers, actors, salesmen and other employees to hold and move. The ease of handling also makes the parts ideal for entertainment pieces, such as large, detailed movie props and sets.
FDM ID-light is used for projects needing a more durable part, such as thermoforming (vacuum forming) molds. With the advantage of FDM’s wide range of production thermoplastics, ID-Light FDM parts are lighter, cheaper and quicker to build, advancing time to market. FDM ID-Light can also be utilized in art pieces, entertainment props and marketing models that need a longer life or more durability.
Stratasys Direct worked with Legacy Effects to create 19 ID-Light robot boxers for the movie Real Steel (2011).
The combination of the hard outer shell and a sparse inner structure makes for extremely lightweight models. The internal construction provides strength for the part while reducing overall weight. Due to the sparse internal structure, the parts can be build much faster than solid, dense parts.
Parts built with ID-Light are easier to handle and transfer, a distinct advantage for designers working in consumer products, entertainment and the arts. Thermoforming molds are built faster and at less cost. ID-Light models can appear cosmetically similar to an end product, and be built in much less time and at much less cost.
The advantage of 3D printing’s light-weight solution has been pushed even further with ID-Light. The applications for this unique build style extend into several industries and will continue to expand as new applications are found in 3D printing.