3D Printing Services in Chicago at Bridgewater Studio

Heather shows off some of our 3D-printed coral for Shedd

Chicago’s number one stop for 3D printing!

Here’s showcase of two 3D printing projects we’ve had our hands on the past couple years. First a full sized Mars Rover tire replica and further down the page a 6-ft wide Japanese Spider Crab— entirely 3D printed!

Most 3D prints are made with PLA filament— a unique kind of plastic. What’s really special about it are its thermal properties. PLA hardens much quicker when it’s not subjected to heat, a lot like a hot glue gun. Generally, we print components in parts and reassemble them using a resin epoxy. This two-part chemical mix hardens into an extremely durable plastic, and comes in a variety of colors and textures. This way, we can carefully choose our materials to suit different types of projects.

We have two large-format 3D printers for big projects with fine details. Each printer has up to 4 printheads running simultaneously to produce multiple pieces at the same time. Usually, we make a few copies just in case something does go wrong down the line— so multiple printheads helps speed things up tremendously.

3D printed spoke for Mars Rover tire

Post-processing on 3D printed parts

Once the components have come off the 3D printer, we work on post finishing the pieces. With multi-part components, they’re sanded smooth and then reconstructed into a durable whole part. Generally speaking, 3D printed pieces are hard-coated in a self-leveling resin. This gives the same glossy surface that plastic injected parts have— but at a fraction of the cost and time. The resins we use are incredibly strong and unless your pieces are particularly delicate, they are able to withstand rough conditions. Most 3D printers available today leave micro-ridges on the surface of the part. This is because it builds the part layer-by-layer. By taking these extra steps, we ensure that you get a high quality prototype, prop, exhibit display— or whatever it is we’re working on!

3D printed wheel treads
Mars Rover wheel hub 3D-printing
Final Rover Wheel 3D Print

Finishes, paints and other surface treatments for 3D printing

3D printing is one of our specialties, however, Bridgewater Studio does much much more than just print parts. For really big projects with complex geometries, we typically use one of our CNC routers. Check out the octopus we did for the Shedd Aquarium. We also have multiple finishing experts who know all about surface treatments and paint finishes. We’re grateful to have such talented artists since projects like these have such high levels of finish! In fact, quite a few of our projects have use automotive type finishes and once they’re finished, you have a hard time telling our 3D printed projects apart from the real thing!

If you found this interesting or want to learn more about what we do and to start your own 3D printing project, give us a call at (312) 702-1335! Check out more of our spectacular 3D printed projects.

3D printed crab legs, don't try to cook them
3D printing and finishing crab legs
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