3D Printed Prototypes Can Keep Your Car Cool in the Sun

An Alternative to Switchable Glass

Car-owners have long been vexed with the issue of finding sheltered parking spaces to prevent being trapped in stifling heat after returning to their vehicles. The available solution in the market currently is switchable glass, which applies voltage to change from opaque to clear. However, at $100 per square foot, it is not the most economical solution for most car-owners.

From Clear to Reflective

Researchers from the University of Delaware have found a more viable solution, with windows that can switch from clear to reflective with the addition of a liquid. This technology could potentially applied to cars and energy-efficient buildings. The smart glass is made of a 3D printed plastic panel consisting of a pattern of retro-reflective structures which directs light back to the originating direction. The structures become transparent when filled with methyl salicylate to match the plastic’s optical properties.

“We expect our smart glass to cost one tenth of what current smart glass costs because our version can be manufactured with the same methods used to make many plastic parts and does not require complicated electro-optic technology for switching,” Keith W. Goossen with the University of Delaware said.

Ease of Prototyping with 3D Printing

A Stratasys Objet30 Pro 3D printer was used to fabricate the plastic panels, complete with the complex repeating retro-reflective structures instead of traditional molding techniques.

“Without 3D printing, we would have had to use a molding technology, which requires building a different mold for every different structure. With 3D printing, we could easily make whatever structure we wanted and then run experiments to see how it performed,” said Goossen. “For commercial production, we can use standard injection molding to inexpensively make the retro-reflective panels.”

Potential Solution for Homes and Offices

The smart glass is also not simply cheaper than switchable glass, but also more efficient at creating energy-efficient homes and offices. As Goosen explains, “You can’t use today’s commercially available switchable glass for this application because in the darkened state the glass still absorbs sunlight and becomes hot. Because our glass is retroreflective in the non-transparent state, almost all the light is reflected, keeping the glass, and thus the car, from getting hot.” For countries such as Singapore where it is sunny all year long, this technology can reduce cooling costs significantly.

Contact us today to find out more about how you can incorporate 3D printing for your prototyping and product development needs.

GKN Driveline Florence Replaces Traditional Production Processes Across Factory-Floor with 3D Printing to Improve Business Performance

About GKN Driveline:

GKN Driveline is a leading tier one supplier of automotive driveline systems and solutions to the world’s leading vehicle manufacturers. GKN Driveline services over 90% of the world’s car manufacturers with its automotive driveline systems and solutions. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Group, and  luxury vehicles from the likes of Maserati and Ferrari are their notable clients.

Application of 3d Printing:

With lead times affecting productivity at their factory located in Florence, this division has identified several new factory-floor applications where 3D printing can replace traditional manufacturing processes. With the introduction of a Stratasys Fortus 450mc Production 3D Printer, his team can now produce complex assembly tools for the production line in a fraction of the time compared to traditional methods. This allows the plant to quickly undergo feasibility analysis of the tools and deploy them on the factory floor significantly faster, accelerating the entire production schedule, said by Carlo Cavallini, GKN Lead Process Engineer and Team Leader at the Florence plant.

Geared for Customization

To further improve efficiencies on the factory floor, the plant is also extending the use of 3D printing to produce customized replacement parts, on-demand. The Florence plant recently 3D printed a missing cable bracket for a robot, saving at least one week versus the time it would have taken to receive the part from the supplier. This makes GKN Driveline Florence significantly more flexible to manufacturing and maintenance requirements across the production floor.

“The ability to quickly 3D print tools and parts that are customized to a specific production need gives us a new level of flexibility and significantly reduces our supply chain. Considering that we produce several thousand individual parts a week, this ability to manufacture on-demand is crucial to ensuring our production line is always operational and maintains business continuity,” explains Cavallini.

Andy Middleton, President, Stratasys EMEA, concludes: “GKN Driveline Florence is a prime example of how a growing number of future-ready companies are leveraging the capabilities of additive manufacturing to improve different areas of their business. We are committed to helping these customers identify their traditional production processes that can be enhanced, or in some cases, replaced with our 3D printing solutions. It’s this type of applied innovation across the manufacturing process that has seen GKN Driveline Florence accelerate product development, reduce costs and reinvent its supply chain.”

Visit our website http://www.prototype-in-asia.com/ today for the endless possibilities you want to implement.

Source: “Carlo Cavallini”, Process Team lead from GKN Driveline,2017.

fdm 3d printing

Benefits of 3D Printing for Product Development

3D printing, otherwise known as additive manufacturing, has long been touted as the next Industrial Revolution. While this may still be some years away, find out more about how the technology today can impact your business.

Traditional Manufacturing Techniques

Before additive manufacturing, parts were commonly produced through subtractive manufacturing where simple designs were cut from materials and assembled together subsequently into a single unit. Over the years as design tools such as Computer-Aided Design (CAD) for engineers improved vastly, the limitations of existing manufacturing methods were exposed.

There have been many cases in which design improvements could be added to improve efficiency, safety or functionality but failed to be implemented as it was impossible to manufacture. As a result, product engineers had to restrict their product designs strictly to the limitations of manufacturing techniques.

The Game Changer: 3D Printing

By creating objects layer by layer, 3D printing allows parts once assumed impossible to be produced. This allows engineers to leverage on the full potential of CAD and other design tools to create designs limited by their imagination. Additive manufactured part also reduces part count in the overall production process, increasing efficiency significantly by replacing complex assemblies with single parts which can be made much lighter and with minimal wastage.

Today, we are free to imagine how we want our products to be designed without being held down by the constraints of manufacturing technology.

Visit our website http://www.prototype-in-asia.com/ today and reimagine the possibilities.






Source: Guillermo Mart´ınez de Frutos, Product Development Process for Additive Manufacturing, 2015

IDTechEx Research Estimates 3D Printing Metals Market to be Worth $12B in 2028

3D Printing Metals 2018-2028 

[Photo courtesy Carnegie Mellon University College of Engineering.]

More companies are beginning to follow the lead of early adopters of additive manufacturing technology such as GE Aviation. The focus of 3D printing technology for metals has been gravitating towards industrial usage for the past few years. The increasingly widespread use of the technology to produce low-volume or individually customised metal parts has continually fuelled its growth for the past few years. In fact, while plastic additive technology still represents the largest share of the market, it is not rising at the same pace as metal. 

Highlights from IDTechEx report:

  • Metal 3D printer sales grw by 48% last year while material sales grew at a rate of 32%.
  • In the long term, materials are expected to grow at a much faster pace than for printers.
  • This rate of growth is projected to continue for the next 4 years.
  • Direct metal laser sintering is still the main printer technology by total installed base with an 84% market share in 2016.
  • The total installed base for metal printers will continue to see a robust CAGR of 23% between 2018 to 2028.

The imperative insight from this report is that existing industries that employ metal 3D printing will continue to broaden their usage and applications of the technology. On the other hand, the rest of the industry is moving quickly to incorporate the technology into their value-chain so as to remain competitive. Some examples are German company Siemens using metal 3D printers for their gas turbine blades as well as NASA’s heavy investment for production of next-generation rocket engines.

As Spare Parts 3D, we also notice by exchanging with multiple industrial companies that request for metal 3D printed replacement parts to repair industrial machineries are raising very fast as stated by PWC.

The full 161 page report, the first market research report dedicated to metal 3D printing, can be purchased here