Threads are widely used fasteners that provide a secure way to join complex assemblies. They are especially crucial in 3D-printed parts made with SLS prototyping , allowing for the use of generic fasteners and screws. However, successfully incorporating threads into 3D printing requires careful design and processing to ensure proper printing and seamless integration into any design.
Why threads are important in 3D printing
The additive manufacturing process used in 3D printing offers a more cost-effective and faster way to create intricate designs. Technologies like selective laser sintering (SLS) enable the production of complex, high-performance, and functional parts. One advantage of 3D-printed threads are that they can be situated in unconventional locations, like within a part, instead of only on its surface.
Additionally, threads created through 3D printing usually have a smoother surface finish that often requires little to no post-processing. Traditional methods like machining or casting require additional steps, such as turning or grinding, to achieve a similar finish. This advantage becomes especially cost -efficient in smaller setups, making SLS prototyping an affordable and time-saving option during product development.
Factors to consider when incorporating threads
When it comes to adding threads to 3D-printed parts, several methods are available, and the best choice often depends on the specific requirements of the project. Here are some common methods for adding threads in SLS prototyping:
- Direct printing – This method offers custom design options and maximum flexibility but can be challenging for smaller diameters or when you need to produce identical parts.
- Heat-set inserts – Suitable for thermoset or thermoplastic parts, this option is often chosen for specific material applications.
- Manual tapping and drilling – While these methods are quick and economical, they can extend lead times. Furthermore, the resulting threads may not be as strong as those created by other methods.
- Combining multiple methods – In some cases, a mix of different methods may offer the best outcome, depending on the project’s needs.
Getting high-quality threads with SLS prototyping
HLH Proto specializes in SLS prototyping and can assist you in creating high-quality threads for your 3D-printed parts. Reach out to our experts for design guidance, or get in touch for a free product review.