3D Printing

You might have noticed the rather odd shape being 3D printed in the video clip below.

There’s an explanation for this, but later.

3d printing for prototyping

3D printing has an almost endless use. Many products in today’s world are straight from design to tooling then into production.
We have a 3D printer for a different purpose.

3d printing for prototyping.

We use it to produce pre-production customer design models in print form.

Why? Well this enables us to create a part that resembles the customers design. We can put this in to our designs. Useful if we are manufacturing tooling that requires part positioning. For example a piece to needing to fix in to some other clamping device. We can hold it, turn it, examine it and make sure it does everything it’s meant to.
A real benefit to us here at LKD.

We have used 3d printing for prototyping in the medical and automotive industry.


For Automotive we use it for customer parts. Where their own hard tooling isn’t available for many weeks ahead. We print the parts and design the jigs or fixtures. We send the printed parts along with the completed tooling on to the client. The customer can see hands on how the hard-tooled parts will sit.

It gives them an amount of surety. When the real parts do arrive the next step toward production will be so much easier.


For the medical industry it has interesting capabilities. We had a request from an international, eminent laparoscopic surgeon. He had created a new method of teaching his students. It used a training device requiring a 3D model of a particular internal organ.

We worked hard to create the perfect match so, enabling him to teach his students more in a more accurate way.

Now the odd shape at the bottom of our home page. You thought I had forgotten? This is 3d printing for prototyping at its most creative.

I heard a tense note from my wife one morning whilst using her hair dryer getting ready for work. “I’ve nowhere to put my hairdryer, I need somewhere to put it when I’m done. Can’t you make me something?”

It’s not all about engineering, sometimes it’s about creating harmony in the house.

The solution was to create the shape you see above. This shape represents the contour of our dado rail around the room.
It’s retained by a tack through a hole which also printed in to the piece.
Harmony created, brownie points gained!

Want to talk to us about 3d printing for prototyping?
Get in touch and tell us about your project.

At LKD Engineering the use of 3D printing to aid in the manufacture of robot weld jigs has become a regular feature.

The process whereby the customer 3D model data is transferred directly to the printer allows us to quickly create a production likeness part.

The 3D modelling process can reproduce parts that are usable as a direct component representation allowing tool designer’s to physically adapt their designs.

From a solid works file, a 3D printing image is created in STL format to drive the 3D printer.
Some files can take up to 24hrs to complete dependent upon the quality of print required.

Many precision engineering companies now use this design tool to great effect.
The printed product comes in to its own in the design and manufacture of robot welding tools.

Robot welding is the most extensively used process in the automotive industry and today the robot tooling industry is almost completely supported by the automotive sector in the UK.

Alongside the use of 3D printing for assisting robot weld tool design is the versatility of the CNC machine and in particular the vertical CNC machining centre.
The CNC machining centre is basically the mechanical forefather of the 3D printer.

It’s a clear benefit to have a 3D printed part to design and build hard tooling from.
There is often a mental block in tool design which can now be overcome with the aid of the 3D print.

A robot jig and tool designer now has the opportunity to create access for the robot gun when designing jigs.

Using the very same modelling techniques present in the creation of the 3D print the CNC machine can recreate a precision part developed from the inclusion of 3D printing in the early design and development stage of the tool.