To test and optimize our 3D printers continuously, our printers at dddrop work 24/7. Our customers operate in various industries. Therefore the aim is to make as many different prints as possible. Recently our employee Thomas printed this ball valve. By rotating the handle, the flow of liquid can be blocked. This ball valve is printed in parts and assembled afterwards. A tough challenge, because we’ll need to see if the ball valve works properly after assembly.
Before printing, Thomas explained that he had to take several aspects into account. At first he chose to use ABS material. ABS is mostly used for industrial applications, because it doesn’t break easily and it can resist high temperatures. Another important consideration was the position of the printed parts. Initially, it’s preferred to choose the easiest position. The largest surface of the 3D model is printed on the print bed. In this way it creates the least overhang, resulting in using less support material such as HIPS or PVA. Also, the position is essential for the strength and finishing of the product. This is due to the model being built out of upright layers. The part that is printed in the horizontal direction is the strongest. To achieve the best finishing of your product, you should place the contour horizontally. Thus before printing, it is important to always take into account which components of your 3D model endure the most forces, but also what the desired finishing of your product is.
The two pictures above show the ball valve in two positions. As the arrow indicates, the 3D model have the most strength and best finish when printing in the horizontal direction. What the horizontal print direction is, depends on whether you print the ball valve in the lying position (left picture) or standing position (right picture). In this case the standing print is the most ‘easy’, where less support material is needed and you have the best finish of your product. However, if the strength is the most important, the lying print is better.
After the printing phase, it was time to assemble the parts. As mentioned before, this was a challenge. The ball had to fit exactly into the valve to function properly. A small distortion could be disastrous. Therefore it was important to print with closed casing, especially with ABS material. Check the video below for the result. The printed parts are assembled with the help of long bolts and the ball rotates smoothly. We created a working ball valve! Mission accomplished.