Additive-3D Manufacturing. MFJ-SLS technologies and FFF/FDM. Production of parts in nylon, peek or abs. Continuous improvement. Re-production of MiniVAP parts. New designs and products.
What is additive manufacturing?
Additive manufacturing, or 3D-printing, is a method of producing parts starting with a material that is deposited layer by layer. The different layers correspond to a 2D image of the part at different heights (Z axis) and the layers of 2D material are then joined, after the material has been rapidly heated with laser beams until molten, or after photosensitive binding techniques have been applied, to build a complete 3-dimensional (3D) part.
There are many types of 3D manufacturing technologies, each with advantages and disadvantages. After many prototypes and tests, we opted to work with MFJ (Multi Fusion Jet, from Hewlett-Packard) and SLS (selective laser sintering). Both are technologies that have been on the market for several years with which high-quality 3D parts with excellent mechanical properties may be printed.
Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) also known as Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) is sometimes used, for simpler parts that are more sensitive to contact with vapor and for materials that will be exposed to over 180-200ºC.
Since when has MiniVAP had 3D printed parts?
3D printing is really something that has always been with us. After the launch of our company, around 2006-2008, we started using SLS technology to produce the first MiniVAP prototypes. We were able to run many tests and iterations and test for all the different parts using 3D technology at a reasonable costs. Although, at that time, it was not a very widespread option and it was not viable to mass-produce, due to the high economic cost.
In January 2022, we began to produce some prototypes and were testing different materials, finishes, colors and qualities with MFJ. The WPA lid in gray nylon was the first product to be released.
Later, in May 2022, vaporizers included some internal parts that made it easier to assemble the interior and that improved some other features. For example, the inner casing of the lid now has some small bulges; these help to seal the steam chamber more securely. Other exterior bulges avoid the use of adhesives in the aluminum casing of the lid.
Since October 2022, 3D printing has been incorporated into exterior and visible parts, improving the durability of previous mold-made versions. Thanks to the greater durability, the areas that support more mechanical stress or wear have been reinforced. The thickness of the fins that hold the lid of the vaporizer and the click-on connection between the core and the battery are some examples of improvements to our parts.
Why does miniVAP implement additive manufacturing?
The main reasons for the use of this technology are:
To avoid tooling and mold costs; and reduce the inventory of parts in storage. Small batches of parts can be produced with these technologies, while maintaining manufacturing costs which implies a less expensive final product.
Continuous improvement. The advantages of manufacturing small batches means that improvements can be incorporated into the designs of each part in each small batch. In addition, we can create special editions and designs, adapted to the needs and suggestions of customers.
Design flexibility. The restrictions on mold-based production runs are not applicable to 3D printing. We can add elements or empty surfaces that might otherwise be impossible with mold manufacturing.
Are 3D printing materials safe?
The most widely used material is nylon and its specific name is: PA-12 or PA-11 (bio-compostable). These two materials can be produced to food or medical grade standards, according to the specific needs of the application. If you want more information, you can read more here.
In this case, it is totally safe to use these materials. First of all, they are NOT used in areas through which steam/vapor passes, nor in the loading chamber. Nor are they used in parts where the temperature is high and where high temperatures could deform them; such as parts close to the heating core or the vapor outlet.
Food grade PEEK or ABS are also used, in parts that mainly have to withstand high temperatures and contact with vapor.
Tips for maintenance and cleaning of the material
Both the current Lid-WPA and the longer lasting parts of the vaporizer are black in color. The original material is gray and is dyed black which improves its shiny appearance and gives it a soft texture.
Follow these tips to clean the material:
– Use a cloth or some cotton wool, hot water (between 30 and 40ºC) and washing up liquid.
– Apply some hot water and washing up liquid to the cloth.
– Removes any dirt from the nylon surface
– Rinse with a cloth dampened in warm water.
Do not use alcohol or solvents, as they will otherwise remove the dye and the casing will lose its shiny appearance.
We hope that with this small step you will enjoy your miniVAP. There are improvements to each new batch of miniVAP vaporizers; an ‘update/repair’ service that brings quality and better features to your machine; and who knows, maybe new products.
Welcome to the New Edge to MiniVAP