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Designworks Windsor recreates sci-fi classic with PolyJet technology

“When this application was needed, an Objet 3D Printer was the perfect time and money-saving solution, enabling IPF to meet Designworks’ needs.”

– Sean Miles, Designworks

3M-coated abrasive sheets polished the area where shininess was desired. After users sprayed a primer coat, they smoothed the surface with finer abrasive sheets.

Metal-filled chrome lacquer followed a coat of gloss black paint. Then tinted lacquer added depth to the model.

Cyber Model

In the field of collectible licensed merchandise, product development time is crucial. Manufacturers have to ensure that their products reflect up-to-date cultural trends, so anything that expedites the development process is a valuable tool in the developer’s arsenal. The success of BBC Television’s long-running science fiction series, Doctor Who, prompted a toy and collectible manufacturer to produce a range of highly detailed products depicting key characters from the series.

Cards Inc.’s developmental partner, Designworks Windsor, produced prototypes for the collectibles. In order to achieve the clean crisp lines of the latest incarnation of Doctor Who’s Cyborg foe, the Cybermen, Designworks used SensAble Technologies’ Freeform system to model them digitally. The system provided the interface between the user and the computer, applying a tactile sensation by using a jointed arm with a stylus attached to the end.

Freeform enabled Designworks to create digital objects with a more organic feel than those produced by conventional CAD systems, making it the perfect choice for the mechanical humanoids. Key to this process was the emergence of 3D printers for rapid output of extremely complex 3D forms.

A Perfect Model

Working with Industrial Plastic Fabrications (IPF) and its Objet Eden350 3D Printer, Designworks used PolyJet™ technology to output the Cyberman bust, as the form was too complex even for five-axis machining. The Objet 3D Printer produced the Cyberman bust in fewer than two days, enabling an unrivalled quality and turnaround time.

“When this application was needed, an Objet 3D Printer was the perfect time and money-saving solution, enabling IPF to meet Designworks’ needs,” said Sean Miles, director of prototyping, Designworks.

PolyJet technology provides a level of detail perfect for a model of this size and has distinct advantages in the stability of larger models. Objet 3D Printers create highly accurate prototypes that remain true to the source file even when outputting parts within an envelope of 70 × 90 × 170 mm (the Cyberman’s chest), scale that can lead to sunken areas and build errors on other systems.

Designworks constructed the Cyberman busts in five parts, all of which fit together perfectly in their raw state with no cleanup required other than support structure removal. The final model, built with Rigid Opaque material, was easily cleaned to a production finish by spraying a light coating of sandable primer over the sculpture’s surface and using a flexible sanding pad. Another coat of primer finished the model beautifully, making it ready for silicon molding for creation of the final tooling pattern and decorated samples.

High-Quality Model at Low Cost

The use of the Objet Eden 3D Printer within the development process helped Designworks lower costs through less finishing time; significantly reduce lead times by shortening sculpting time traditionally done by hand; and produce highly accurate models with the best finish possible.

Taking all factors into consideration, Designworks representatives said they prefer using the Objet 3D Printer to develop prototypes for their collectibles.

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