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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 […]

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How to Choose the Best Fasteners for 3D Printed Parts

We get a lot of questions about the best methods for fastening different 3D printed components. When prototyping hardware products — like electronics enclosures or robotic assemblies — you often need to design mating structures that are more complex than a single 3D printed component. Other times, you may need to print components larger than […]

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Keep the Assembly Line Happy: 10 Design for Assembly Rules to Live By

“Perfection is achieved not when there Is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery Your day isn’t going well when your boss quotes a French novelist at you. In this case, my design was rejected because my boss thought that it wasn’t “elegant”… What? Days […]

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CAD File Formats and How to Export Them for 3D Printing

There are a lot of CAD (computer-aided design) file types out there, each with its own names, formats, and parameters. From STEP files to STL files, to IGES and more, it can be difficult to differentiate between them. This article will help you understand the difference between these file types, and which are best for uploading […]

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How to Design Snap Fit Components

Designing components with snap-fits can save you time and money in production by reducing material costs and part quantities, as well as making assembly easier. In the past, injection molding was the only viable method for producing snap-fit joints in plastics. However, today 3D printing has opened up both new opportunities and challenges in their […]

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How to Design for Stiffness Using Material Properties

Improving part stiffness is critical for load bearing applications, and can be accomplished through both design geometry and material properties. In this article, we’ll employ many of the same formulas we discussed in our previous article about leveraging geometric structures to improve stiffness. However, here we’ll focus on material selection, altering the properties of materials […]

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How to Conduct a Tolerance Analysis for 3D Printed Parts

Once you have modeled your parts in CAD software, you may be tempted to send them off to be manufactured in your 3D printer. However, before doing so you should perform a tolerance analysis to make sure what you’re printing “stacks up.” Tolerance Analysis, or tolerance stack-up as it is sometimes known, is a critical […]

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What is ISO 2768? A Guide to Tolerance Standards for CNC Machining

Determining the correct tolerances to apply to your product design can be challenging. There are natural variations amongst products that occur in mass production and you should plan for these deviations when you are applying tolerances to products.  That said, you can decide how much a fabricated product can deviate from the engineering drawing dimensions […]

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Slip Fit Tolerances and Geometry

Have you recently assembled Ikea furniture? If so, I apologize. I send my condolences for the frustration you experienced when the holes did not line up with the pins you put in other holes or when you realized you were missing a fastener. The good news is that you did gain something from the experience […]

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How to Cut CNC Machining Costs

Known for a having a hardworking and meticulous nature, Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” While you probably aren’t reading this article for tree-felling advice, what Abe was getting at is that careful planning is important for any […]