We, here at HSD, believe that the recent advancements in area of affordable additive 3D printers are truly transformative development in area of prototyping and low volume manufacturing.
Being RC-crazy, we believe - that ever increasing precision and fidelity, combined with low entry price point - the new generation of printers opens so many new avenues for hobbyists or builders alike.
Here at HSD, we are striving for perfection and excellence in creating high fidelity models for aspiring Scale builders - using the newest, available techniques;
Step 1 - Research
Whether it’s a major components; cockpit, weapon pack, interior, engine block; or a small trivial part - fuel cap, windscreen wiper, seat belt block; - research is the key; collecting accurate photo documentation is the first step in design.
This includes finding accurate information about the variants of the specific plane/helicopter, what equipment did the variant have - basically the NERDy stuff!!! AND WE LOVE IT!!!
Step 2 - CAD and Print Model Preparation
With the documentation collected the fun bit starts! CAD design, using Autodesk Fusion 360, based on the dimensions (scale) provided, our army of uber-talented designers (ok…. the army for time being is just one code-monkey with an OCD attention for detail) creates an accurate representation of the component.
The ready models are then processed:
Taking into the consideration the size, print size, print time, material strength, assembly difficulty and paint schema - the models are first split into multiple components, hollowed out, the supports are generated and optimal printing strategy is devised. (with multiple prototype prints and potential fails)
Step 3 - Whack it into the UV oven
Yay! Print….and fail! And print again! And again! Until we get it right.
In order to get the highest fidelity possible we are using MSLA/DLP 3D printers. Unlike ubiquitous FDM printers (the plastic extruding ones) the MSLA/DLP printers use stereolithography process; the material used here is an UV light activated resin. The MSLA printer lights up a whole layer at a time - masking out the the vexels that shouldn’t be printed. The high fidelity of our prints is achieved thanks to a high resolution of the masking LCD screen - xy resolution of 47 microns (that is 0.047mm) and layer height of 35 microns.
Not only does the resolution allows for representation of even the smallest details, but the layer height of just 35 microns means no layering is visible - unlike the FDM printers.
Depending on the parts (rigid or movable) we use different resins, some that give more rigidy., others that give more flex to the end result.
Step 4 - Get a pint, check out groups on FB, watch Netflix…..basically wait… (or do something productive)
The prints take time….a lot of time, some of the items in our catalog, done in multiple parts take up to 35h total print time - and this is just the begging.
But no worries - we are already eyeing bigger printers with bigger print volume - and always looking at UV resins that require less UV exposure to activate (faster print times) while maintaining same quality and durability of the prints.
Step 5 - Post-process
Upon the completion, each print requires post processing; this includes washing the excess resin off with Isopropyl alcohol, rinsing in water, carefully removing the support material, washing it again with the IPA (no…. not Indian Pale Ale sadly…), washing again with water, drying up and curing under UV light for another 10-15 minutes.
When done - extra marks where support material was present are filed/sanded.
If the model was hallowed - it’s left hanging for another to drain any excess water/IPA/resin mix that may have gotten trapped inside.
After this the model is ready for assembly (when applicable), priming and painting - no extra sanding required!