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Best Practices for Adding Ribs and Gussets to 3D Printed Parts for Structural Integrity

When designing plastic components, it’s often necessary to add ribs and gussets to improve the stiffness and strength of load-bearing features. This reduces material volume and optimizes print time for 3D printed parts, since it takes longer to make these features solid structures (print time is largely driven by the volume of material for a […]

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GD&T 101: An Introduction to Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing

Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GD&T or GD and T) is a language of symbols and standards designed and used by engineers and manufacturers to describe the shape (geometry) and size (dimensions) of a product and facilitate communication between entities working together to manufacture products. The US military created a proto-GD&T in the 1940s with the […]

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Thermoplastics vs. Thermoset Plastics: Material Properties Overview

Thermoplastics and thermoset plastics are classes of polymers used in injection molding, CNC machining, 3D printing, and urethane casting. Like elastomers, another class of polymer, thermoplastics and thermosets both consist of long, repeating chains of molecules. Under a microscope, the structure of a thermoplastic resembles a railroad track while a thermoset material looks like a […]

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How to Build a BOM

Chefs create recipes. Hardware Engineers create BOMs (Bill of Materials) and SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures). The BOM is an ingredient list for building your product, and the SOP is the set of instructions on how to build it. In this article, we’ll explain how to construct an excellent ingredients list that will help you clearly […]

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3D Printed Light Pipes: Overview and Material Selection

The advent of 3D printable transparent materials has opened doors to new possibilities with rapid prototyping for optical applications. Now, we can consider how to use and manipulate light with 3D printed parts. Light pipes, sometimes referred to as light guides or light tubes, are physical components used to purposefully redirect or transport light from […]

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Let It Slide: Self-Lubrication in Mechanical Assemblies

Friction is one of the five contact forces along with tension, spring force, normal force, and air resistance. Friction is what gives us traction on the road, good brakes, and allows us to walk without looking like a baby giraffe. But sometimes we just want to let things slide, and that’s when friction frustrates — […]

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Threaded Locking Methods for Secure Connections

Threaded fasteners, such as bolts and nuts, are used in many applications, ranging from plastic toys to massive bridges. And all threaded fastener connections need to stay together when we want them to, but also come apart when needed. For example, the valve covers on an engine must remain in place while driving, but we […]

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How to Design for Part Stiffness Using a Geometric Approach

Designing products for load bearing applications is a complex and multifaceted task, so it’s important for a designer to have a “toolbox” of techniques that improve design quality. Designing for part stiffness through geometric controls is one of these important tools. While part stiffness can be modified with geometry, material stiffness is a property of […]

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3D Printing to CNC Machining: When to Make the Switch

3D printing, an additive manufacturing process, has made its way into almost every industry. From automotive to fashion, it has improved the way companies in a variety of fields do new product development. However, long before 3D printing revolutionized prototyping, CNC (computer numerical control) machining dominated the manufacturing world. If your job is to design […]

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The Engineer’s Guide to AC vs DC Motors

While different electric motors serve vastly different purposes, their core function remains the same—to convert electrical energy into mechanical energy. Motors are the opposite of generators, because they convert electrical energy into mechanical energy, while generators convert another form of energy into electricity (you can see a huge deconstructed generator undergoing maintenance at the Hoover […]