3D printing has proved itself to be a great tool for innovation, prototyping and low volume end-use parts. Our partner, Materialise, designed a brilliant gadget for a no-hands door opener and shared the design files with the world. Anyone can now 3D print their own door opener to minimize the spreading of germs and viruses.
Our creative application engineer in Norway, Stian Mork, decided to take the original Materialise design a step further. As the door opener is exposed to repetitive loads, especially in office environments, he thought it best to use a material and a 3D printing technology that could reinforce the door opener and add strength. The go-to solution was the 3D printer Markforged Mark Two, a 3D printer that uses both a composite build material and reinforcement fibers, resulting in super-strong parts.
The first step was to import the original Materialise design file in the software Markforged Eiger. This is where all 3D files are prepared for 3D printing.
In Eiger, we specified build material and what continuous fiber to use. Continuous fibers are added to certain build layers and add extra strength or other mechanical properties, depending on material type. We chose carbon fiber. We also specified the number of layers with continuous fibers. For the build material, we used Onyx, which is a composite plastic containing chopped carbon fiber, which also adds to the strength of a printed part.
“Using fiber-reinforced materials for applications like this can be a real door opener for many companies out there when it comes to producing strong and solid parts that are supposed to last over time.”, says Stian Mork.
The reason we chose to reinforce with fibers using Onyx as build material is to minimize fatigue in the door opener. With Onyx and continuous carbon fiber, the part will be much stronger and stiffer, especially compared to ABS, nylon and PLA. Onyx is 1.4 times stronger than ABS, and twice as strong as nylon. The fiber reinforcement adds additional strength, in some parts the strength is comparable to traditionally machined aluminium parts.
The final step was to assemble the door opener and mount it on a door handle. Worked like a charm.