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  • Reverse Engineering Clamp Component

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    This is the story about reverse-engineering the clamp that i accidentally read and that’s really helpful:

    The clamp component is an important part of the work table. You may know that the dental sector is one of the world’s most significant users of 3D printing. Adopting the technology has been a significant economic victory due to the mass customization of aligners and other dental instruments. A different 3D printing request came from my dentist, who also happens to be my father. A clamp that holds up a small work table failed, shattering it in half. His team superglued the clamp back together as a temporary fix. My father contacted me to ask if I could print the component because the manufacturer no longer made it. 


    Reverse Engineering the Clamp Component

    I sent the item over to our SolidWorks team. Our SolidWorks reverse-engineered it and ran a brief stress analysis to evaluate whether minor design changes influence the part’s functionality. Even with a sparse printed infill, Fred, one of our support engineers, felt that our primary ABS material would enough.

    Dental Clamp Component 3D Printing Set-Up

    When the SOLIDWORKS model was finished, I imported the file into GrabCAD to prepare it for printing. I changed the part using some of the great new features in “Advanced FDM Mode.” First, I modified the four holes at the base to accommodate #10 – 24 Long heat-set inserts using the “Apply Insert” option. To achieve a correct fit, the application automatically modifies the hole diameters to the required size. It adds additional shapes to the region around them. Then, using the “Avoid Seams” tool, I moved the print seam away from mating surfaces and away from surfaces that came into touch with the chair. The changes are depicted in the green characters below.

    When I was satisfied with my settings, I sent the work to our Fortus 450mc. The item was completed in less than 3.5 hours using a sparse infill pattern and a layer height of 0.013″. I tossed it in our wash tank after the print was ready. The soluble support was entirely removed from the insert holes in just 4 hours.

    After that, it was time to put the heat-set inserts in place. We couldn’t heat the pieces because we didn’t have a soldering iron. To get the metal inserts hot enough to solidify in place, we utilized a tiny blow torch. This method isn’t recommended because obtaining consistent heat through the pieces was a bit of a gamble.

    Final Results

    I also found out that the existing half of the clamp had a small rubber sheet that prevented to part from sliding down the pole. The second rubber piece must have been lost when the original broke. The amount is currently holding up to the job. If anything, it could be immediately improved; it would be adding more friction between the amount and the pole. My father was pleased with the result, and I hope to improve this aspect in the future.


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