Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to some of our most frequently asked questions. Cannot find the answer you require below? Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 028 9070 6940, our technical sales team will be happy to help.
What process should I use?
This depends on various aspects of your project requirement – surface finish, dimensional accuracy, temperature requirements, feature definition, material requirements, lead-time and cost.
No two projects are the same, so LPE offer a range of processes and materials so we can best match to your RP or RM requirements every time. Typically, customers will use Selective Laser Sintering for toughness, high temperature and functionality, while SLA is used for feature definition, accuracy and aesthetic finish, and CNC for specific material requirements.
For longer runs of parts, we also offer Selective Laser Sintering, Vacuum Casting, CNC and RIM.
Our process comparison page provides an overview of the key differences between the processes offered. Alternatively contact our sales team who will be happy to advise on the best solution for your individual project and quote accordingly.
What materials are available?
LPE offers a wide range of materials for all processes. Our range of SLA epoxy resins simulate many production materials including ABS, PC, PP and filled materials.
Selective Laser Sintering parts are made in nylon, glass filled nylon, aluminium filled nylon, as well as specialist Investment Casting and flame retardant materials. A wide range of casting PU materials allows customers to simulate any production material from soft rubbers to durable injection moulding plastics.
Further material information is available on our Rapid Prototyping Materials page.
Are materials waterproof?
The Watershed XC11122 SLA material is guaranteed waterproof. Whilst initial SLA materials were very unstable with no real moisture resistance, all new materials are much more stable and will all take water testing.
Selective Laser Sintering models can be water sealed (free of charge) on request to ensure water proofing.
Can I get materials to withstand high temperature testing?
All Selective Laser Sintering materials are used for functional testing and can be tested to temperatures of around 150°C.
We also offer ceramic filled SLA Resins which, when post-cured, can withstand temperatures exceeding 200°C and offer excellent stiffness.
For further advice and information contact our sales team on 028 9070 6940.
…any medically approved materials?
The Watershed XC11122 is a clear SLA material which is medically approved to ISO and USP Grade VI standard. Parts are particularly suited to medical device housings and fluid flow analysis models, and can also be used in a wide range of bio-medical or skin contact applications and clinical trials.
Nylon material PA2200 is also suitable for medical applications with USP Grade VI approval.
Can parts be used in end production / what quantities can I expect?
With the major improvement in material stability and durability, many of our customers now use our services not only for prototypes but also for low volume production requirements. Typically, for short run needs of up to a couple of hundred parts, we offer Selective Laser Sintering, Vacuum Casting, Reaction Injection Moulding and CNC services. Some niche production requirements can also be fulfilled with SLA models. Nowadays, many projects are undertaken with Rapid Manufacturing in mind, so no design for production considerations are required.
What file format do I need to provide?
LPE can accept a wide range of 3D file formats including STL, IGES, STP, SAT and all generic 3D data packages. We can also accept 2D DXF and drawing data, for which we can offer a competitive 3D CAD conversion service.
What finish can I have?
LPE offers a full range of in house finishing and painting services. Our standard smooth and bead blasted finish to external faces on SLA models is free of charge. We can also provide painted finishes on all processes to a matt, textured or gloss standard in any color (matched to Pantone, RAL, BS or customer sample).
Clear and tinted finishes are also available with some materials. We can also supply metallic finishes from appearance models to fully finished mirror chromed finishes.
Basically, we can match to any colour or finish requirement with our team of experienced in house finishers / model makers – please just ask.
What about customer confidentiality?
At LPE we work closely every day with many clients whose data is highly sensitive. Aware of this, we have a stringent in house confidentiality policy among staff, and are more than willing to sign any Non-Disclosure Agreements for our customers.
Providing Rapid Prototyping & Additive Manufacturing services to the UK and Ireland for over twenty years, we have developed strong working relationships with customers across a wide range of industry sectors, with many of our first customers still working with us today.
“Stereolithography models allow us to do production intents within days. On one project alone it saved us £100,000 in tooling costs and reduced the lead time from 7 months to 7 days”