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We are the 3D printing arm of a larger company called Express Group Ltd. Fixing printers since 1988, today we are a Specialist Parts Distributor and Experts in 3D Printing.
We take quality control very seriously, which is why we are audited for ISO9001:2015 certification, this helps ensure we provide great customer service.
3D printers have been in use in the manufacturing industry for more than thirty years, but it is only really in the last ten that the market has opened itself up to other applications on a large scale, such as mould making for investment casting and tooling. Applications are also emerging for the medical and dental fields.
All of which is to say, 3D printing is no longer constrained by manufacturing limitations or design complexity; and as a result, it is seeing incredible growth.
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Sometimes, layer lines are undesirable - and especially when it comes to prototyping products. The Zortrax Apoller offers a unique solution to the issue - it smooths off models inside a sealed vacuum chamber using vapour. This touchless process results in perfectly smooth models that look as though they were originally injection moulded. No mess, no fuss.
Zortrax calls this technology SVS (Smart Vapor Smoothing). Flawless results are guaranteed every time because the Apoller manages temperature, pressure, and concentration of solvent vapours inside the chamber for you. It’s all automated.
Now we know what you’re thinking … is the Apoller suitable for the materials I’m printing with? The answer is probably. It’s compatible with ALL filaments based on ABS, HIPS, and ASA, regardless of manufacturer. So, don’t believe anyone who tells you it’s only compatible with Zortrax’s proprietary filaments. They’re telling you fibs.
Two types of vapour are needed depending on the materials you 3D print with. ABS and HIPS-based filaments are smoothed using Acetone, while ASA-based filaments are smoothed with MEK (butanone). Models smoothed with Acetone have a glossy finish which perfectly replicates the look of injection moulded parts. Models smoothed with MEK have a matte finish. The two solvents are not interchangeable.
You control the Apoller using the built-in touchscreen, or you can control it remotely over Wi-Fi. It’s easy to setup and even simpler to use. The smoothing chamber has a 300 x 250 x 250 mm (11.8 x 9.8 x 9.8 in) build volume. One of the best features is the recycling function, which condenses excess vapour and sends it back to the tank for reuse.
Importantly, the Apoller conforms to the ATEX 2014/34/EU Directive forexplosive atmospheres, so is completely safe to use in your workshop. It’s a really useful piece of kit which we recommend for hassle-free post-processing.
What People Say
“The Apoller features an intuitive touch interface and an advanced vacuum system for locking in vaporized solvents. WiFi and Ethernet connectivity round the device out as a capable machine for the office environment.”
– Hanna Watkin, All3DP
The best 3D printers fabricate models and parts that are true to design. In other words, models and parts that are a perfect physical representation of the digital model drawn in CAD. To achieve this high degree of dimensional accuracy, printers must produce a very fine edge across the build area. This is how we perceive parts to be high quality or not when we look at them and inspect them.
Of course, multiple variables determine how fine that edge is, and you cannot always rely on the quantitative values manufacturers place on their 3D printers. If we did, every printer on the market would be pinpoint accurate.
When you are shopping for your next printer, consider this: accuracy is the value that determines how close a 3D printed part is to its digital drawing. Precision refers to the repeatability experience of a printer, or how reliable the printing experience is. If you want a consistently good 3D printing experience, you need both.
The two most common 3D printer technologies are FFF and SLA.
The most common technology is fused filament fabrication (FFF), also known as fused deposition modelling (FDM). Both technologies are in fact one in the same.
These 3D printers are the lowest cost. They melt a plastic and extrude it layer-by-layer to build up models from nothing. This process is traditionally best suited to low-cost prototyping, but advancements in technology mean this is no longer the case. There’re more variables that can affect the quality of a print with FFF than SLA, but solutions like an enclosed build chamber and heated build plate reduce this.
SLA (stereolithography) 3D printers use a laser to cure resin (liquid plastic) onto the build platform in desired areas.
Unlike with an FFF 3D printed part, parts printed by an SLA 3D printer need to be post-processed with UV light. This cures the resin, causing it to solidify and reach the mechanical properties required for the application. The method of production is cure, peel, raise, with the laser curing the resin layer by layer; the peel mechanism lifting each new layer off the surface; and the raising action allowing new resin to flow under the build platform.
3D printers are available in all shapes and sizes to suit any project, but there are two common classes: desktop, and large-format.
Desktop printers do exactly what they say on the tin - they fit on a desktop (or most workspaces) and take up around the same footprint as a large LaserJet printer. Large-format printers are four or five times bigger, enabling you to manufacture models and parts like car bumpers and snowboards in one go.
You’ll find the bigger you go, the rarer photopolymer technologies like SLA and DLP (digital light processing) become. This is because they get very expensive as you scale up. Most large-format 3D printers are of the FFF variety because the technology is cheaper and easier to produce on a large, industrial scale.