Re: Actua

From: Brad Fox (
Date: Wed Jul 30 1997 - 19:20:09 EEST

I'll try to answer some of your questions as best as possible. Check
some earlier postings from Kevin Dyer - he did a great job.

>Ron Hollis wrote:

> How many Actuas are in the field
I believe there are about 60 to 70 Actua 2100 machine installs.

> What kind of network is it on?

Actua is released on: SGI, IBM, Sun, HP and now Windows NT.

> What are the layer thicknesses for building parts?

Currently, this is hard wired to .0039 inch. I hear that you may be
able to choose different settings in the near future. Each pass of the
print head in .0013 (after planing .0001 off) and there are 3 passes per
slice, therefore 3 x .0013 or .0039 per layer. Therefore it may be
safe to assume that in the future, we may be able to print in .0013,
.0026 or .0039 per layer.

> What are the negatives of the system? Positives?

Many, many positives. Keep in mind what Office modelers are trying to
do - greatly increase the integration of RP throughout the design cycle
but especially up front, early. i.e. lots and lots of parts (3D
prints) of the design as it matures. So...positives are: Cost, speed,
ease of use.

Now to negatives. In my estimation the only two perceived negatives are
material and build volume. Materials are now pretty good (TJ65 will be
very good). Even TJ55 makes it possible for shipping. Again, when put
in context of where Actua makes the biggest impact, materials are OK
(and getting better). Build volume can also be a limiting factor,
although I've had very few say that they would NOT buy a machine as a
result of 10x8x8. Parts can be built in two pieces and glued together.

> How much does a part typically cost?

Depends on how you define it. Material costs are $50 per pound - so
most parts will be betwee $5 to $25 dollars in material. If you examine
all the costs: amoritize machine cost, material cost and service and I
get around $35 per average part with a healthy build activity. Not
bad, eh? For heavy users it will be even less.
Another way to think about it is: unlimited parts for around $3200 per
month. Run 100 parts, $32 per part. Run 200 per month, $16 per
part. It will depend on how each companies amoritize the machine, etc.

> What are some typical buildtimes?
All over the map! A small Part 1x1x1 will build in about 1 hr.
Additionals will be about 10 min. extra each. Allegro software
autonests the parts for fastest throughput and the 96 jet head makes a
build of thick cross section just as fast as thin cross section.
Typical trays (runs) will be nearly full and run 12 - 24 hrs. By the
way, its easy to take off some parts as the run is still building.

> What is the functionality of the parts, if any?
Basically show and tell, but TJ55 allowed us to assemble parts and
actuate them. Snap fits a no-no at this time. They work great as
silicone molding patterns when you get to the point of needing more
aggressive materials - or better yet access SLA, etc. for those needs.

> Can you do thin walls?
Uh - yea. Like .004 thick!!

> Have you used, or know of the use, of these parts for investment >casting
Great application for this little machine. No special burn out

> What kind of accuracies are you getting?
You can see Kevin Dyer's earlier note - I concur. Most parts seem to be
undersized. Compensate by upping the shrink about .5% and you will get
plus or minus 5 thou accuracy.

> Is it really user friendly?
Lets you know how to submit a Microsoft Word file to be
printed? That's about it. However, there are some improvements to
Allegro we are hoping to see (like a "print preview" - it's in the

I hope this helps a bit. I would welcome other users to give their
opinions and experiences.


ACUTA USERS GROUP. If you are interested in an Actua Users Group
formation, please contact me. I am in the process of seeing if this is
something the user community would be interested in. If interested,
please email or call me:

Brad Fox
Rapid Design Technologies
Ph: 612/882-4660

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