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Technology

Astrodevice instruments are manufactured using two main technologies.

The first is incremental 3D printing, in which we primarily use PET-G with carbon fiber added. This is a high-end engineering material providing high stiffness, impact strength, chemical resistance, UV resistance and temperature resistance. The characteristics of the material and a careful selection of printing parameters make it possible to obtain components with very high strength. In the case of some components, we also use non-doped PET-G, flexible TPU and other filaments, depending on the required class of solutions.

The second technology is laser cutting and engraving used to produce complementary parts.

Astrodevice’s seemingly simple instruments often consist of dozens or even hundreds of small parts: additive-printed molds, laser-engraved molds, metal fasteners, and other small components. The entire product, including packaging, is always assembled by hand.

To ensure the highest quality of our products we use only materials from renowned manufacturers – mainly from Poland, Switzerland, Austria and Germany.

3D printing – quality and aesthetics

We take great care in making our prints. However, due to the very characteristics of FDM technology, the created objects may have characteristic aesthetic features, typical for this type of technology and the material used for printing. Before you order our products, especially if you have never dealt with 3D printing, you should familiarize yourself with its characteristics.

Seams

First of all, each layer of 3D printing in FDM technology is applied gradually. When laying down the filament, the nozzle has to start this process somewhere and finish it somewhere. This creates a characteristic joint called a seam. Using various techniques, you can try to hide this seam, but for certain geometries this is basically impossible. In particular, seams remain visible on shapes with convex faces because there is no fold in which to hide the seam. However, even when such folds exist, the seams may still be visible and not aligned.

Although we try to hide the seams so that they are not visible at all, in some pieces they can be seen.

Extrusion of doped materials

Carbon fibre doped materials, in particular PETG+CF which we use to manufacture some of our accessories, have a heterogeneous composition. Carbon fibre particles are added to the plastic to stiffen the final printout. Such an admixture is not perfectly homogeneous as a rule. In the filament fibers are randomly distributed and have different sizes, falling within a certain range of tolerance. For this reason, in the printed product you may notice micro thickenings or places which look as if the print there is slightly less intensive. The distribution of such spots is fairly random, but strongly influenced by the geometry of the printed shape. Sections with tight curvature are usually printed slower and straight or only slightly curved lines faster. The momentum of the applied filament is different in these cases because its effective extrusion speed differs.

Top and bottom surfaces

When a layer is printed, the filament is applied as a curved or broken line (depending on the method used in the print). Although theoretically this way of applying material should ensure that the entire layer area is covered, in practice this is not necessarily the case. On top surfaces, especially in tight areas with little curvature, narrow spaces where the very tops of the filament lines meet, visible microholes can form, the size of tenths of a millimeter. This is most often the case when printing from doped materials, in which the flow effect is deliberately reduced by means of a lower printing temperature, thus limiting other adverse effects.

The lower surfaces, on the other hand, adhere directly to the bed during printing. They have a characteristic matt texture, which provides an additional positive aesthetic effect. However, depending on the geometry of the item and the printing method used, you may notice that parts of this surface can reflect light from different angles. In some cases you can also see lines or concentric geometric patterns.

Printing accuracy

Each part goes through a stringent quality control after production. Although we take the utmost care in manufacturing our products, due to the nature of 3D printing, other minor flaws may also be visible in our products: scratches, lapping of the filament, deviations in the uniformity of the layering, tiny threads, etc. If they occur and our quality control department finds them acceptable, they will not have any effect on the functionality of the product and will usually just be invisible without going into detail. If they occur and our quality control department finds them acceptable, they will not have any impact on the functionality and will usually just be invisible without going into a very detailed inspection.

In order for you to enjoy your Astrodevice accessories to the fullest when ordering our products, you should be prepared to accept all the possible aesthetic non-uniformities described.

The maximum dimensional tolerance of the printing is 0.3 mm in the XY axis and 0.1 mm in the Z axis. Printed elements are always carefully checked for size, if there are threads in them – we check them by screwing metal connectors, filters, etc.

Versioning and minor appearance changes

3D printing has the fantastic advantage of allowing us to make any design changes quickly in practice. As is the case with software, we can make minor changes and put them immediately into production. We can respond to user requests, improve features, make possible bug fixes, etc. And, as with software, we can talk about general changes (as in the case of changing the main version to a higher version) or minor changes, when in general the device does not gain new features, but only functional improvements to existing features are made. While major model changes are announced by us as new device versions, minor changes are introduced without making fuss around it. Such minor changes sometimes involve a slight change in the external appearance of the device compared to the previous version – we add, for example, new washers, form the body slightly differently, change the shape of the nameplate, change the type of fasteners or threaded parts to one that better performs its function in a given situation. Since we can make corrections as often as needed, we don’t necessarily update the photos of the product every time – we often consider it redundant, if the possible change is very minor and doesn’t affect the functionality of the device except possibly improving it. Therefore, when you receive the purchased device it may differ slightly in external appearance from what you see in our photos. However, at any time, if you would like to know the full details of the current version, even before you make a purchase, you can ask us about possible changes in appearance compared to what you have seen in photos or visualizations on our or other websites.

Usage

Our printing and assembling services for equipment and accessories are provided to you AS IS and we exclude our liability for any damage or loss that may arise from their use. You are personally responsible for the safety of your equipment. You should therefore always make sure that everything is securely installed and directly supervise the operation of all equipment. If you do not accept this disclaimer, do not order printing or assembling from us. Using the free documentation you can make our accessories and devices yourself, have them assembled and printed by someone else or choose other technical alternatives.

Since the basic material of our accessories and devices is plastic, they require a little more care than those made of metal. Although a significant portion of our prints are made from carbon fiber reinforced plastic, this material is much softer and less rigid than metal. Our products are very accurate and should perform well, but you should keep a few important rules in mind when working with them:

  1. Some parts of the drawer are quite delicate, especially the filter holder edges and threads. Handle them gently and never tighten anything by force.
  2. If any component is defective, stop using it. This is especially true for threads. If you mount the camera using a damaged thread, it may fall and shatter.
  3. Screw the accessories onto the printed threads slowly and carefully so as not to damage the printed threads.
  4. Avoid extreme temperatures. Although PETG-grade plastics can remain rigid even at temperatures above 70 degrees Celsius, try to avoid operating in such heat. To reduce various risks, try to limit the temperature of use to 45 degrees Celsius. This also applies to the storage of equipment. As far as low temperatures are concerned, plastics can withstand them well, even when the chill reaches -30 degrees Celsius. However, they become more brittle then, so working dynamically with them in such temperatures can cause problems. For example, screwing in very fine threads at this low ambient temperature can lead to thread crushing. The problem may also be the freezing moisture, which applies to all devices, not only those made of plastic. Water freezing increases its volume, so if some connections are wet (e.g. from snow) and then freeze, ice can damage them. Remember about that and try to work in dry conditions.
  5. Use only a dry cloth for cleaning. Do not use any solvents, or petroleum-based products such as oils or greases.
  6. Dispose of the used product in accordance with your local environmental regulations.
  7. The devices and accessories we manufacture must not be used by children, but should be used only by adults. Use by persons with reduced mobility may require the assistance of an able-bodied carer. Any person intending to use any product manufactured by us must first ensure that they understand all the information contained herein and all the technical documentation relating to the products being ordered.
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