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Alien vs Predator set
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Snow Business - SB200 - Dry foam falling snow machine
The SB200 machine is an advanced dry foam falling snow machine. Here are the main features of the machine:
Large snow output
Virtually silent operating
15 or 30 metres hose
20 litre fluid container for approx 90 minutes running time
Accurate digital timer
Adjustable flake size
It's that time of year again, but while most of the UK looks set to stay snow-free, 3T RPD's additive manufacturing technology is helping to bring white Christmases to people up and down the country.
This is because the 3D printing company's innovations have been used in Snow Business's new range of snow machines.
Snow Business is a 30-year-old snow and winter effects company that has been bringing scenes on television and in films to life with fresh snow, icicles and frost effects. Indeed, Snow Business has furnished sets for the James Bond, Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean franchises, as well as for television shows Coronation Street and Blue Peter.
Up until very recently, Snow Business bought all its falling snow machines from other suppliers, but in its drive to gain better control of quality and design the business decided to start producing this hardware itself. However, they faced the problem of producing low-volume machines in a cost-effective way as a company that has never really entered the manufacturing arena.
Making use of the Snow Business in-house CAD design facility, Snow Business outsourced the manufacture of the necessary parts in order to do the final assembly in-house, but one of the technologies exploited for more complex plastic parts was additive manufacturing.
One component that suited this highly accurate manufacturing technique was the nozzle for the SB100 and SB200 dry foam falling snow machines. Previously these nozzles have been handmade on a lathe with a milling machine from a solid plastic bar, but this process is slow, laborious and expensive, while injection moulding provided no better solution, as a mould tool for this complex part would be expensive given the relatively low volumes needed.
Therefore, Snow Business' Head of Research & Development Paul Denney, who runs the company's CAD station, designed a better option and discussed the nozzle requirements to 3T RPD. Snow Business emailed their SolidWorks 3D CAD files over and they were built on the Berkshire company's Selective Laser Sintering machines - the largest of their kind in the world.
Once the build was complete, 3T's team of experts finished the nozzles by colouring them during the post-process stage, which meant Snow Business did not need to invest any time or additional money in painting or finishing when assembling the machines.
Lead times do not exceed 10 days and changes can be made to the design at the click of a mouse, negating expensive or time-consuming modifications to mould-tooling. Plastic additive manufactured parts are functional and durable, but as the nozzles are not subjected to great forces the material was ideal.
The plastic additive manufactured nozzles gave given Snow Business an overall cost saving, given their low volume requirements, as well as resulting in a marked improvement in aerodynamic performance thanks to the option of adding blends and fillets, which would be impossible using standard manufacturing techniques.
Mr Denney said: "The use of 3T's plastic additive manufacturing process has reduced our costs and improved machine performance, giving us a competitive edge. The ability to quickly change a design and test it enables us to modify the part in just a matter of days, rather than weeks or months, thereby saving us valuable time. As costs of additive manufacturing fall and finish improves, I can see a time when we may well be able to create entire products using purely additive manufacturing."