CNC milling machine (3-axis milling)

Our CNC machine is a 3 axis milling machining center. It is commonly used for precision machining of parts for the automobile industry and for a variety of other applications, including for many consumer goods.

It is similar to the CNC machines used by many metal suppliers, so our CNC engineer can make tests and fine-tune the settings, and then instruct the suppliers how to run mass production in good conditions and at the appropriate speed.

We use it for testing production processes, for rapid prototyping (typically for plastic or metal parts), and for mass production of certain metal components.

Here are two key stats:

  • Spindle max speed: 24,000 RPM
  • Positioning accuracy: +/- 0.005 mm

How it works
Our CNC machine holds the workpiece of material still while its onboard industrial computer controls the rotating cutter to remove material to form the required design, therefore this is subtractive prototyping. It can follow three directions of freedom, X, Y, and Z, which is why this machine is known as a 3-axis mill.

Benefits

  • Very flexible in its applications and in the materials it can shape.
  • Can drill holes in-center or off-center, can do straight or angled cuts, and accepts material that comes in many shapes (not necessarily cylindrical).
  • For prototypes: making parts in certain shapes quickly
  • For small series (manufacturing): fabricating some metal or plastic parts internally, with a MOQ of 1 piece
  • For DFM and industrializing the fabrication of metal parts for mass productions: testing for optimizing the settings of the CNC machines, and challenging the machining suppliers when needed. We have an in-house CNC engineer for that.

Drawbacks

  • Not ideal for many shapes (e.g. products with deep cavities), for which other processes will be needed.
  • Will not present the same mechanical properties as mass production for parts that will be injection molded, cast, etc.

Learn more about CNC prototyping here.

3D-printer

3D printer (SLA technology)

Our 3D printer uses SLA (stereolithography), a layer by layer manufacturing method using photosensitive resin (polyacrylate) as the raw material for the parts and prototypes being fabricated. Since layers are added one by one, this is additive prototyping.

How it works
The SLA printing process utilizes an industrial computer and a vat of liquid resin which is cured precisely layer by layer by a UV laser to form a part. As one layer is made, the printer moves it up a layer out of the pool of polymer and then the next layer is made, and so on, until the part is complete.

Benefits

  • Many types of resin can be used (hard plastic, soft rubber, transparent…)
  • Relatively high precision (+/- 0.1%) for a smooth surface; can make walls as thin as 0.5mm
  • Can generate parts that are up to 450 mm long
  • Sofeast can generate the 3D drawings either by designing them in a CAD software or by 3D-scanning an existing object; we can then 3D print it
  • Prototypes: making product enclosures as well as internal custom parts (can also be used for generating different shapes and getting feedback quickly, in the early exploratory phases)
  • Makes assembly fixtures for our internal use
  • It is very fast compared to other methods of creating the first few parts and prototypes (such as a mold for plastic injection molded parts which takes a fairly long time to fabricate before it can be used)

Drawbacks

  • Parts are structurally different (and, in a way, more fragile) than injection molded parts, so testing at this stage can’t give a definite indication of reliability & durability
  • The resin polymer used is sensitive to sunlight and will degrade over time, affecting the mechanical properties of the part
  • For a nice visual aspect, post-processing may be needed to eliminate the mark left by the part’s support (which is needed to hold it during printing)
  • Only one color can be printed at a time

Learn more about 3D printing processes for prototyping here.

3d scanner

3D Scanner

We often use our in-house Reeyee 3D scanner to get the 3D dimensions of parts, products, or tools when that’s necessary. For example, some customers may need to replicate their own product, but their previous suppliers refused to give them the CAD drawings.

Once a shape has been 3D scanned, we can replicate it either by 3D printing or CNC machining, so the scanner is a good complement to those two machines.

It provides 3 scanning modes:

  • Automatic
  • Free scan
  • Handheld scan

It also has a <0.1mm single frame scan accuracy for very accurate scans and can scan objects with a diameter between 3 to 70cm.

How it works
The object to be scanned is placed on the scanner’s platform which slowly rotates as the cameras take the scan. The object can be turned over by hand so the scanner can get all angles and doesn’t miss anything. The 3D scan is fed directly back to a connected computer in high resolution.

Laser Cutting Machine

Our CNC-controlled CO2 laser cutting machine is used to cut parts for prototypes and products in-house.
Many materials come to us in flat plates. We have to cut them with high precision, in a controlled and repeatable manner.
For production runs, this machine provides us with both the speed and precision that some of our projects require.

laser cutting machine

Key specifications

  • Power: 80W
  • Working area: 1000 x 800 mm
  • Engraving speed: up to 800mm/s
  • Cutting speed: up to 400mm/s
  • Accuracy: +/- 0.1 mm

We also have 2 laser engraving machines, too:

  • One for general materials (mostly used on metal)
  • One for glass

Interested in rapid prototyping?

 

Learn more about how we help with prototyping and get a quote here.

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