Our 3D printing services

Combining expertise in engineering and 3D printing technologies to create precision parts and models.

3D Printing Consultancy

Graphite specialises in working with clients to identify the best 3D printing technologies and tailored materials to produce precise, high-performance parts. Our engineers collaborate with other engineers, model makers, industrial designers and product designers across sectors to test concepts, improve designs, cut production costs and solve complex design challenges.

We are continually developing and fine tuning our production processes to improve what is possible in terms of quality, materials and turn-around times.

3D printers work with computer aided designs (CAD) to make your ideas become a reality.

If you do not have CAD, that is not a problem, we have SolidWorks software in-house on which our engineers can create a 3D model from detailed sketches, 2D engineering drawings or scale pictures of the parts you wish to manufacture.

To build anything, our additive manufacturing machines require a 3D CAD file in STL file format. This is the preferred format but we have the ability to convert most common types of CAD file such as .iges, .stp and .obj to name a few. 

If you do have a design in 3D CAD format but are not quite happy with some features or are unsure how to effectively design for the additive manufacturing process, get in touch! Our engineers on the projects team would be happy to give their advice and tell you the do’s and don’ts or take on the 3D design work at any stage for you.

Working closely with model makers, engineers and designers we build concept models with a range of materials and finishes.

We regularly build everything from complex architectural models to multi-part consumer products or individual mechanical parts. We have many different technologies and materials to accomodate the requirements of the model, be it aesthetic or functional.

Due to the quality, precision and complexity of the concept models we can produce, they are often used as part of the product development process. This allows designers to assess ergonomics and other form options, as well as to communicate ideas more effectively.

Although we can build larger models than most 3D print agencies in the UK, the 3D printing technology makes it simple for large designs to be rescaled. We can produce realistic models suitable for demonstrations, exhibitions and shop displays. Great for when the real item would be too large or too heavy to handle and transport easily.

Before committing to expensive mass production runs, building a functional prototype is a sensible and necessary stage of the development process.

3D printing allows for tweaking and design reviews with parts in hand where it would be too late once the production run had started and a lot cheaper than creating the tooling required.

Using 3D printing we can build parts in a wide range of materials to mimic the final end-use material for both functionality and surface finish. Snap-fits, screw threads, flexible lugs and locking devices can all be built in to the parts. This allows you to test the full functionality of either individual parts or complete product design mock-ups.

We regularly build mechanical test parts and verify data with a tensile testing machine. This ensures that our published ‘real world’ figures are accurate and repeatable. This regular testing keeps Graphite’s machines fine-tuned for peak performance.

3D printing is perfectly suited to manufacturing highly customised or limited runs of parts and final products.

Digital manufacturing, as it is also known, enables our clients in many different industries to build parts and products without needing to invest in tooling, die casting, setting up traditional manufacturing systems or machining. The potential of 3D printing to add complexity or lower part count can make this route even more cost effective.

We can build parts in exceptionally strong and light materials with excellent definition. You can design in functionality from the start, building features such as screw threads, oil ways and sealing grooves into the component, and eliminating the need for post machining processes. We can also seal parts to make them airtight, chemical or water-resistant.

The flexibility of 3D printing allows designers a lot of freedom and enables them to build bespoke versions of parts for different applications or markets.

Because parts can be built in strong materials with excellent definition, their functionality can be designed-in from the outset – with screw threads, oil ways and sealing grooves for example, all being built in to the component at source, with no need for post machining processes.

To form complex mandrels for composite tooling, materials such as SR-30 (FDM) and DMX 100 (SLA) are starting to gain traction and, with the right knowledge and experience, these materials can perform wonders. SR-30 is a sacrificial mandrel and DMX is an extraction mandrel with some unique properties.

3D Printing has proved to be an extremely valuable tool in producing components for wind tunnel testing. A large number of complex, unique parts can be built in just a matter of days and can be an extremely cost-effective way to produce models for a wind tunnel. Independent studies have shown that SLA (Stereolithography) produces the most accurate parts, also giving a very good surface finish which is easy to sand smoother if required.

Graphite have many years’ experience producing parts for wind tunnel use, and we understand that part accuracy, repeatable results in the tunnel and getting data you can trust are all of the highest importance. We also understand how expensive wind tunnels can be to run, and why getting parts on time for a test date is vital.

We recommend our Ceramic loaded SLA resin for such components, as it has the lowest shrinkage (greatest accuracy) of any SLA material. It is also the stiffest 3D printed plastic available, with flexural modulus up to 10,000 MPa. Combined with a very low water absorption rate, it ensures that parts are stable and repeatable over time.

SLA is also one of the only technologies which allows pressure tapping holes to be designed and built into the component at no additional cost. For very thin components, and for High Speed Wind Tunnel (HSWT) Supersonic applications, we can also metal plate components where necessary.

How we do it

Graphite specializes in identifying optimal 3D printing technologies and materials for precise, high-performance parts. Our engineers collaborate with various professionals to test concepts, improve designs, reduce costs, and solve complex design challenges. We continuously refine our production processes to enhance quality, materials, and turnaround times.

30+ years’ experience

Graphite’s team has over 30 years of combined experience in 3D printing and has worked with a wide range of clients, from small businesses to large corporations. We have a deep understanding of the capabilities and limitations of different 3D printing technologies and can help you choose the right solution for your specific needs.

Experts in engineering

Graphite’s team of engineers and designers work together to create innovative solutions for a variety of industries. We use the latest 3D printing technologies and materials to produce high-quality parts and products that meet the specific needs of our clients. Our goal is to help our clients bring their ideas to life and achieve their business objectives.

Benefits of 3D printing

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, offers several advantages over traditional manufacturing methods. It eliminates the need for expensive tooling and allows for greater design freedom, enabling the creation of complex geometries and intricate details. Additionally, each part can be easily customized without incurring extra costs, making it perfect for low-volume production or personalized products.

With shorter lead times and the ability to consolidate multiple parts into a single component, additive manufacturing streamlines production processes and reduces costs

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Rapid Prototyping

Additive manufacturing significantly accelerates the prototyping phase of product development. Designers and engineers can quickly produce, test, and iterate on prototypes, which shortens development cycles and speeds up the time to market.

Complex Geometries

Additive manufacturing allows for the creation of intricate designs and complex geometries that would be difficult or impossible to achieve with traditional manufacturing methods. This enables designers and engineers to innovate and push the boundaries of form and function.

Design freedom

It allows for the creation of complex geometries and intricate details that may not be possible with traditional manufacturing methods.

Reduced lead times

Additive manufacturing can produce parts on demand, shortening lead times compared to traditional manufacturing processes that require tooling and setup.

Lower part count

It can consolidate multiple parts into a single component, simplifying assembly and potentially reducing manufacturing costs.

Cost Efficiency

Traditional manufacturing methods often require significant upfront investments in tooling and setup, which can be cost-prohibitive for small production runs. Additive manufacturing eliminates the need for such tooling, making it more cost-effective for producing low volumes or one-off items.

WHAT PEOPLE SAY

Testimonials

CASE STUDIES

Some of our case studies

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