Circular-saw prototype with stock metal parts and blue FDM parts

Functional Prototyping

Prove and perfect your designs with tough, precise testing

Iterative, agile product development is the promise of advanced 3D printing. Functional prototyping with engineering thermoplastics or digital materials reveals how your next product will perform, well before you commit to production tooling.

Compact, Frictionless Flexibility

Foldable cube has intricate parts in various Shore A values

Plastic flexure bearings appear as living hinges and snap-fit closures in disposable containers, electromechanical systems and consumer products packaging. Minimal friction, compact design and the ability to manufacture them in one piece makes them a popular alternative to mechanical hinges and closures in many applications.

Prototype Living Hinges With PolyJet 3D Printing

Multimaterial cube has four rubberlike living hinges

Several PolyJet materials can produce living hinges that withstand functional testing. Endur is a tough, flexible photopolymer that mimics the appearance and behavior of polypropylene. On its own, it’s a great option for 3D printing living hinges. For users of ConnexConnex2 and Connex3 3D printers, Endur can also be combined with select Rubber-like materials to produce Digital Materials with improved toughness. These blends create the most successful living hinges of any PolyJet material option.

Other Digital Materials combine the superior elongation properties of Rubber-like photopolymers with the stability of Rigid Opaque materials to achieve toughness suitable for living hinges.

With multi-material 3D printing, you can combine several properties in the same build, so a flexible living hinge can function next to a rigid housing with no assembly required.

Build Living Hinge Prototypes With FDM Technology

Fingers close an FDM box with living hinge

Creating living hinges with FDM enables quick functional testing of hinged containers and housings, in production-grade thermoplastics. FDM living hinges and snap-fit prototypes are especially successful when 3D printed with FDM Nylon 12 material.

Design and build considerations: With a vertical build orientation and slight modifications to the hinge design, a single bead of thermoplastic can extend the entire length of the hinge. This results in an FDM living hinge that can last through hundreds or even thousands of flex cycles. In addition to hinge durability, the vertical orientation often provides a good surface finish on the rest of the part.

FDM box with living hinge, open

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