Jun 3, 2016 | By Alec

2015 was a wild ride for Carbon, a young startup from Redwood City, California, and it looks like 2016 won’t be any different. They burst onto the scene with their extremely fast and high quality CLIP resin 3D printing technology after a TedTalk in March 2015, and quickly began working with a number of industrial partners. And following the release of their commercial Carbon M1 3D printer this spring, more and more industrial partners are set to benefit from CLIP technology. One of the first to adopt this commercial CLIP M1 3D printing platform is automotive part developers Delphi, who has just revealed that they have begun using the M1 to develop functional prototypes and small end-use batches.

It’s just the latest success story for Carbon, which will doubtlessly be followed by a lot more. Even before the release of the M1, their technology was adopted by Hollywood special effects company Legacy Effects and Ford to 3D print parts and props, as well as by Kodak and Johnson & Johnson. The M1 3D printer will doubtlessly continue this trend, as it fills a perfect niche in the 3D printing market for its excellent speed (100 faster than some competitors) and the high quality surface finish and mechanical properties of its creations.

Delphi is now experiencing this for themselves. A high-end developer that specializes in the creation of safer, greener, and connected components and integrated systems for the global automotive industry, it sees 3D printing as a solution for modern design environments and increasing demands. The company has actually been using 3D printing for a variety of prototyping tasks for years, and initially adopted the Carbon M1 3D printer as another prototyping tool. But as they revealed, the sheer making power of the M1 is changing their whole development process since first receiving a model in the fall of 2015.

As Delphi’s manager of additive manufacturing development Jerry Rhinehart explained, they discovered that the M1’s excellent results enabled them to start 3D printing functional prototypes for the first time. Rhinehart’s team typically designs prototypes for electrical connectors, grommets, housings and a lot more similar parts, and has been working with additive manufacturing for two decades already.

This new M1design application gives them, Rhinehart explained, a fantastic opportunity to meet the demands of a modern design environment. With the product development timelines tightening constantly, designers in the automotive industry are in desperate need for time-saving opportunities that quickly achieve the desired results. “We’re excited to expand our work with the M1 to functional prototyping —something we haven’t been able to do until now — and to explore new manufacturing opportunities as a whole,” Rhinehart said.

While the M1’s speed is refreshing, Rhinehart and his team are especially pleased with the component quality it produces. “It’s all about the materials and mechanical properties that we can achieve with Carbon’s technology. Traditional materials only provided about 50 percent of the mechanical properties we need to produce functional and final parts. We’re currently using the M1 on a project to install a batch of connectors and other electrical components into a 25-car fleet this June for road and validation tests,” he says.

As it turns out, 3D printing is a perfect option for these kinds of parts. Electrical connectors are particularly interesting for their intricate geometric shapes that require extensive product design to incorporate all primary and secondary locking mechanisms. These parts are also exposed to engagement and disengagement retention forces. Previously, layered 3D printed structures were not at all suitable for these components, but CLIP’s high resolution results are. What’s more, prototype revision can be done at lightening speeds as well.

The promising results of these initial tests has already convinced Delphi to start exploring the possibilities of 3D printed low-volume batches, that can be marketed towards small businesses unwilling to fund injection molding. Thanks to Carbon’s engineering-grade materials, they feel that the economics of part production can be completely altered through the 3D printing of end-use parts.

“Engineers can start to re-design parts from the ground up without being constrained by the design rules associated with traditional manufacturing technologies. They can consider lighter weight parts using internal mesh structures, single assembly parts that will better address sealing needs and reduce overall complexity of product assembly, and ultimately decrease part and product failure modes because of this new design freedom,” Rhinehart said. Carbon, finally, added that they are thrilled to work together with Delphi and use their M1 3D printer to uncover new manufacturing opportunities across the automotive industry.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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