3D Manufacturing Boosted By Lowers Prices

A demonstration of 3D printing a car was provided at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.<br>Photo by Ian Shalapata.

A demonstration of 3D printing a car was provided at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Photo by Ian Shalapata.

(WINDSOR, ON) – A price decrease in a major raw material used in the 3D printing of plastic products is expected to further advance the use of additive manufacturing, as 3D printing is also known, by high volume manufacturers such as Ford and Adidas.

Silicon Valley-based 3D technology company, Carbon Inc, says it will reduce the prices of some of its polymer resins and expects this will result in a significant increase in the addressable market for 3D manufactured parts.

In a news release, the company said it would lower prices by 40 per cent. It expects the reduction in the price of rigid polyurethane, or RPU 70, to $150 per liter, down from the current $250 per liter, will facilitate economic production particularly for Adidas.

The shoe manufacturer will be able to cost-effectively print, “… thousands or millions of parts … compared to other manufacturing methods such as injection molding,” noted Carbon Inc chief executive Dr Joseph DeSimone.

Adidas and Ford are two of the first companies Carbon Inc has lined up to take advantage of its technology, which it said holds the promise of accelerating the role of 3D printing in large-scale traditional manufacturing.

Adidas has committed to using Carbon Inc materials at a scale of hundreds of thousands of liters as it gears up to mass produce midsoles for its Futurecraft 4D athletic footwear, launched with Carbon Inc in April this year.

Ford, which operates two internal combustion engine plants in Windsor, as reported by CIO on August 21, has five 3D prototyping centers. It creates more than 100,000 parts annually and expects additive manufacturing, “… will likely be used to construct a least a portion of production parts on vehicles.”

Dr Ken Washington, the leader of Ford’s research and advanced engineering, was quoted in the Carbon Inc statement confirming that Ford, “… is actively working with Carbon to accelerate implementation for automotive applications.”

Carbon is also launching a resin dispensing instrument, called meter mix and dispense, developed in partnership with Henkel Adhesive Technologies, a maker of adhesives, sealants, and functional coatings. The accessory to Carbon’s recently launched SpeedCell manufacturing system allows for the proper dispensing of RPU 70 in bulk quantities.

Henkel’s partnership will enable Carbon to grow its industrial supply chain as demand for these materials increases among its production partners and customers.

“We’ve been watching Carbon for some time now, and, as a chemical company, we’re impressed with its innovations in materials as well as its surge into the consumer goods industry,” said Philipp Loosen, Henkel’s manager responsible for 3D Printing.

To further support its growth globally, Carbon has also expanded operations into Europe by teaming up with new production partners Oerlikon Group’s Citim as well as Fast Radius and Oechsler, in Germany, and Fast Radius and Paragon, in the UK.

Such global growth is yet another important milestone in Carbon’s strategy to bring a complete system of materials, hardware, supply chain, and the right players in the industry together to make its additive manufacturing vision a reality.

“So many of our customers have been asking for a better, more economical way to produce their parts and products, and we’ve found that with Carbon,” said Phil Adamson, managing director at Paragon. He added that Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis additive manufacturing technology has been game changing for the industry because customers can go from design to production very easily with one technology, which significantly reduces development costs and eliminates tooling requirements.

“Now with this materials program it gives real scalability for higher volume batch production,” he said.

With Carbon’s DLS technology and its SpeedCell system, manufacturers are expected to be able to unlock new business opportunities, such as mass customization, on-demand inventory, and differentiated products made with unique functional materials. Carbon’s solutions also provide substantial operational efficiencies such as the elimination of tooling costs and decreased time to market.

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About the Author

Robert Tuomi

After initially succeeding as a broadcast journalist and achieving senior level assignments, Robert branched out into marketing communications. As a senior executive, primarily in the high-tech industry, Robert created award-winning and comprehensive, multi-faceted initiatives to enhance sales and expand market awareness for some of the largest companies in their fields.

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