Ball Joint Model


The evolution of 3D printing creates new applications on a daily basis, and Palette helps to fuel this innovation.

The ability to directly fabricate parts and roughly validate the design can create a lot of value. One application is the use of full scale models, like this automotive ball joint.  Engineers can use a scaled print to confirm the dimensions of the part and check how it interfaces with other parts of the system. Normally, this type of verification would require a prototype being taken off of a production line where it is cut open to check both the external fits and compliance of internal components to the required specifications. This process can take weeks to complete while also being costly.  

So why not print a precise model?  One example is this full scale cross-section of an automotive ball joint.  The bearings and the ball stud act like the ball-and-socket joint of a human hip.  The ball joint is comprised of a threaded ball stud (grey) connected to a spherical surface which sits inside two metal bearings (purple). The sintered metal bearings are usually soaked in oil to allow the joint to withstand heavy loads for a long period of time. These parts are contained inside a housing which is sealed by the dust boot (green), which helps keep liquids and other debris out of the bearings. The upper and lower rings (black) help lock the dust boot onto the housing and ball stud to help maintain a seal.

While drawings and digital models are useful, a full size representation can allow for in-site testing and visual verification. While visualizing products on a screen can be very deceiving, holding a model in your hand is worth more than a thousand words.