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Formlabs Ambassador: Phil Tsao | Using Formlabs to Deliver Product Designs Faster

November 01, 2019

We are excited to feature Phil Tsao as a Formlabs Ambassador. Phil is a design engineer with a mechatronics background who works at an engineering and research lab called MistyWest in Vancouver, Canada - specializing in early-stage product development & prototyping. He also operates a rapid prototyping company called Ember Prototypes, providing fast turn parts to engineers using a variety of tools such as 3D printers and laser cutters. Read on to learn how he uses Formlabs printers and to see some of his works.

"I was introduced to 3D printing in my previous job at the Genome Sciences Center where we had a large in-house machine shop. It was this exposure to making and prototyping that propelled my interest in not only 3D printing but many other manufacturing technologies. 3D printing has been invaluable for my career in product design and it's also been exciting to be a part of."

“The Form 2 has dramatically changed the way I work. Previously, my only low cost prototyping tool was FDM printing. While FDM is still a large part of my design workflow, there are some applications where it does not meet my requirements. For example, when I prototype moving mechanisms, I need to surface finish that SLA provides. Also, I often need a variety of engineering materials with specific mechanical properties. The Form 2 seamlessly transitions from material to material without having to worry about water absorption and tuning of parameters for each material type that's common with FDM.”

“My specific workflow changes depending on the project. Sometimes I will prototype in FDM first as a low cost iteration and move to SLA after before machining, casting or molding with an outsourced supplier. At other times I will jump straight to SLA when I know I need the surface finish and mechanical properties. For example, designing waterproof parts lends itself to SLA rather than FDM because FDM is inherently porous. The Form 2 adds another machine to my toolbox which allows me to either deliver a product or design faster and cheaper than before, or deliver a better product by running more iterations than previously possible in the same timeline and cost.”

“Tough and Durable resins have been highly important for the design of plastics with high strength and toughness. Standard Black & Clear, followed by Elastic and Flexible have also been useful for the wide array of products I work on.”

“My advice for other engineers is to jump at any opportunity for hands on experience. Whether that's using 3D printers are your local makerspace, buying a low cost machine, or encouraging your company to invest in in-house tools. Having hands on knowledge of how to make things improves your skills as a designer and also allows you to think outside of the traditional manufacturing box and come up with clever, faster ways to prove concepts.”

Shop3D recommends the Formlabs Form 3 for engineers because of it's dimensional accuracy, range of engineering materials and surface quality. Wondering if the Form 3 is right for your project? Learn more on the product page, or reach out to our experts.