Functional Products 3D Printed with Carbon's Digital Light Synthesis

Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) 3D printing provides injection-molding-quality parts without tooling. Products from Adidas and Vitamix illustrate its benefits. 

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Digital Light Synthesis (DLS), a proprietary 3D printing technology developed by Carbon, is said to eliminate the need for traditional prototyping and injection mold tooling to bring products to market. The technology is a suitable alternative to injection molding for manufacturing end-use parts across industry verticals, including consumer goods, industrial parts, dental and life sciences. Examples of 3D-printed products made with DLS from Adidas and Vitamix are on display in Carbon's Booth S24160.

Digital Light Synthesis depends on Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP), a photochemical process that projects light through an oxygen-permeable window into a reservoir of UV-curable resin. As a sequence of UV images are projected, the part solidifies and the build platform rises. A thin liquid interface of uncured resin between the window and printing part forms a dead zone where resin can flow beneath the curing part as the print progresses. After printing parts are baked in a forced-circulation oven, setting off a chemical reaction that strengthens the material. According to Carbon, parts made this way are isotropic and have consistent, predictable mechanical properties as well as smooth surfaces. 

Adidas is using the speed and design complexity enabled by DLS in its development of the Futurecraft 4D line of high-performance footwear. The “athlete-data driven” shoe design includes 3D-printed elastomer lattices, creating midsoles made with DLS. According to Carbon, the midsoles’ lattice design is a “previously impossible” geometry made possible with DLS that offers good energy return for athletes. 

Material selection proved to be critical for the Futurecraft 4D application, as Adidas required a production-grade elastomer to achieve a stiff but resilient midsole. Carbon iterated more than 150 different formulations for the elastomer material used in the Futurecraft 4D midsoles. Now, the company is unveiling another material in this family that offers even higher resilience: EPU 41. The new material will premiere at NPE2018 along with EPX 82, a high-strength engineering material with good long-term durability.

In another recent case study, Carbon partnered with Vitamix and The Technology House (TTH) to redesign and manufacture a durable microfluidic nozzle used for rinsing and cleaning Vitamix blenders in commercial settings. These nozzles must withstand high water pressures as well as exposure to bleach, detergent and sanitizers.

The existing nozzle was made as an assembly of six injection-molded pieces. Initially, TTH copied the existing design and 3D printed these pieces using its Carbon SpeedCell equipment and Rigid Polyurethane (RPU) material. Manufacturing these parts with DLS helped to eliminate tooling costs and reduce part lead time. But, the team then went farther, redesigning the nozzle to be 3D-printed in one piece, removing assembly and secondary operations costs. The new monolithic nozzles are lighter, cost less and offer 10 times improved durability over the previous design, Carbon says. 

Find these parts and other applications in Booth S24160, and learn more about Carbon's "toolless" manufacturing capability in a session at the 3D Printing Workshop led by Scott Kraemer, production development engineer at Carbon, on Wednesday, May 9 at 4 p.m.

NPE2018 Exhibitor


Booth: S24160

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