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Questions about 3D printing 3D printing - highest precision for the best result

  • With 3D printing technologies: 2–5 working days
  • With plastic injection molding: 2-7 weeks

For many of our 3D-printing materials we either have material samples in stock or can produce them. Material samples are available as tension rods or technology sample boxes. You can order technology sample boxes here. For tension rods, please contact your Sales representative.

A key feature of surface finishing is the ability to give models and prototypes additional functions. For example, the surface can be protected against corrosion, and further enhancements can be made in terms of temperature resistance or durability.

Another advantage is optical refinement and thus the improvement of aesthetic and decorative properties. At 1zu1 we offer the following methods: infiltration, polishing, tumbling, printing, laser marking, vapor deposition/metallization, hot foil stamping and heatset impregnation.

A DXF file (Drawing Interchange File Format) is a file format for data exchange in CAD. This file format DXF file is integrated into the CAD program AutoCAD. This enables and performs data exchange between different types of AutoCAD executions.

The STEP exchange format (Standard for the Exchange of Product model data) is a standard for describing product data. It enables the exchange of three-dimensional graphics and product definitions in heterogeneous computer-aided CAD, CAM and CAE systems.

Parasolid is a modeling kernel for 3D CAD systems, originally developed by the company UGS and acquired by Siemens PLM Software in 2007.

Materials Advantages
Accura® Xtreme  
  • Plastic parts with excellent detail reproduction
  • countless surface options
Accura® 25  
  • Plastic parts with higher elasticity requirements (modulus of elasticity of approx. 1600 MPa)
  • highest precision
DSM Somos® WaterClear Ultra  
  • Highly transparent or translucent plastic parts
  • UV-resistant
DSM Somos® ProtoTherm  
  • Plastic parts with an application range of up to 125° Celsius
DSM Somos® Taurus  
  • Plastic parts with an application range of up to 85° Celsius.
  • Suitable for prototypes
  • Series applications with long-term stability
Material Advantage
  • Diversity through Shore A hardness 50, 60, 70, 80 
  • colorable
  • good detailed graphics
Materials Advantages
PA11 (PA1101 - polyamide)  
  • best detail resolution
  • smooth surfaces
  • excellent edge sharpness
  • excellent mechanical properties
Materials Advantages
PA12 (PA2200, polyamide)  
  • Perfect material for additive manufacturing
  • Mechanical properties  can be modeled & wide temperature application range
  • Excellent surface due to chemical smoothing
  • Can be dyed with more than 150 colors without material application 
PA12GB (PA3200GF, glass reinforced polyamide)  
  • Components exhibit extra stability and/or stiffness as the material is reinforced with glass beads
PP (PP01, polypropylene)   
  • First functional prototypes made of PP without color/surface requirements
  • suitable for contact with food

With additive manufacturing, we at 1zu1 can offer tool-less manufacturing, starting with the production of one unit up to the manufacture of several tens of thousands of units, i.e. series production. Additive manufacturing thus “flexes its muscles” where traditional manufacturing reaches its limits. It allows a function-oriented design process and enables the delivery of precise serial parts in 3-5 working days.

This is the layer-by-layer material structure used to create the components. The basis for this is the provision of geometries based on 3D CAD or STL data. The complex procedures have advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the chosen method and material, the resulting models will be suitable for different applications. For the duplication of master models, subsequent casting processes are often used for plastic parts.

In prototyping, we usually start with a quantity of one. Often a need develops that can go up to a quantity of 100 or more. Normally, however, prototyping ends at a quantity of about 30 to 50 pieces.


3D printing
The fastest and cheapest method for prototype production is to use 3D printing . The starting point is a digital, three-dimensional model of the component that is imported from a CAD or 3D programming system. The data is transferred directly into the component without molds and tools, which saves costs and time. Prototypes can be produced in only a few days (fast availability). Further, decisive advantages of prototyping with 3D printing include the ability to implement changes at short notice, a fast learning curve and arrival at a series solution via a quick succession of iterative steps.

Injection molding with aluminum mold tool
If it is necessary that the production is based on the original material, the injection molding process with aluminum molds is also an option. Plastic injection molding
The chosen material is liquified and injected into a mold under pressure. 

Vacuum casting
In addition to these direct, additive processes, subsequent casting processes are also available (on the basis of a 3D-printed master model).
For 1zu1 prototypes, this is plastic vacuum casting with polyurethane casting resins.

Mechanical manufacturing
Another option for the production of prototypes is mechanical manufacturing.
Our turning, milling and lathe-milling machines enable us to produce complex models and components in original materials (e.g., PA6 GF 30, Grivory, etc.) within the usual rapid-prototyping time frames, which range from a few days to several weeks.

Design prototype 
A design prototype is used to verify aesthetic and ergonomic features. These prototypes/models fulfil three functions. Firstly, they enable detailed design studies (spatially realistic representation, proportions, aesthetics, haptics, technical functionality). Secondly, they serve as presentation objects for decision-making or clarification of acceptance by customers; and thirdly, they form the basis for generating the 3D data needed for design and production.

Functional prototypes 
These are prototypes that already exhibit the important functional properties of a subsequent series-production component. Among other things, the mechanical, electrical, acoustic or thermal functions of individual components are verified.

Geometric prototypes 
Dimensionally accurate models used for initial assembly and user trials, or to specify a requirement profile. The main focus here is on checking the form and fit accuracy as well as the tolerances. The material-specific properties are less important.

Concept prototypes 
These models are used to illustrate a particular concept or test an idea.

  • Applications with a total of up to 50,000 parts in the life cycle of a plastic part
  • For very small quantities of very few parts, it makes sense to select 3D printing as a production technology from the outset.
  • 3D printing: quantities of up to 1,000 are possible and, depending on the requirements of the component, also useful.

Various additional technologies, such as chemical smoothing of laser-sintered parts or coloring of plastic parts by impregnation, bring the 3D printed parts so close to the usual series requirement from injection molding that there is no longer any discernible difference. This high level of vertical integration makes it possible to produce outstanding series 3D printed parts. However, the decisive factor is whether the series material is approved by the customer. 

Pre-series are put into circulation for the first time by the customer. Later, these are always replaced by series parts. They are therefore used to validate a series, as final test parts for installation or for final functional tests. This should result in a release for series production with only minor modification.

Components manufactured under this term are put into circulation as series parts by our customers. It is important to note that “series” does not stand for the respective customer understanding of a specific industry. Instead, it is the 1zu1 definition for the type of output that can be provided at 1zu1 as a series part. It is therefore important that the customer's own quality requirements are always discussed and agreed with 1zu1 taking into account what we can offer in the way of quality assurance. Validation of the processes is possible.

1zu1 regularly tests new materials, processes/technologies, equipment etc. If the results meet our requirements, we add them to our portfolio.

We share our latest news with prospective customers via the 1zu1 newsletter. You can sign up for it here.

We also perform R&D and research on new materials for 3D printing and vacuum casting.

We monitor the entire market and continuously test new processes, materials and improvements to existing technologies.

Around five to ten times per year we inform our existing and prospective customers about the latest innovations at 1zu1 Prototypes. We will be happy to provide you with this information – you can sign up for our newsletter here.

The core strength of 1zu1 is prototypes and small series. We advise and support you from the initial idea to the finished product. You can read a few of our success stories in the Customer story section. We would also be delighted to help write your success story. Get in touch with us.

The material manufacturer does not provide information about the stability under pressure (compressibility) of this material. The material consists of epoxy resin and a high, non-compressible ceramic content, and can withstand high internal-mold pressures during injection molding. However, with increasing temperature and long cooling times, there is still the risk of deformation, which also depends largely on the component geometry. A general appraisal is therefore not possible and a precise assessment is also difficult. We do not have practical applications for the described scenario. However, we have already produced injection molds from the PERFORM, which have withstood several hundred shots without any problems or dimensional errors on the injection-molded parts. Furthermore, we successfully use this material on test benches as complex hold-down devices for test specimens that are clamped by means of a toggle lever. In this scenario we have not detected any deformation at room temperature. Our suggestion: Test your requirements and application with the aid of some prototypes to check whether the functionality meets your expectations.

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