Plastics Technology

NOV 2018

Plastics Technology - Dedicated to improving Plastics Processing.

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The company's DLS (Digital Light Synthesis) technology, enabled by its CLIP (Continuous Liquid Interface Production) process, elimi- nates the shortcomings of conventional 3D printing by harnessing light and oxygen to rapidly produce objects from a pool of resin by literally pulling them upward continuously from the pool in a single pass, like the famous scene in Terminator 2, where the killer robot T-1000 rises from molten metal. The bottom of the growing part is cured continuously by UV light. The printed parts reportedly feature excellent mechanical properties, resolution and surface finish. Because they are produced in a single layer, parts are said to be more isotropic in properties than 3D-printed parts produced in successive layers. Not only does Carbon's technology produce end-use parts, but it also delivers increased speed, reportedly up to 100 times faster than other AM processes. "It is a big breakthrough in how one can make objects," DeSimone says. After initial formation, parts require post- curing in an oven to develop full properties. Carbon's 3D printing systems include the M1 printer, which was the first to use Carbon's DLS technology, delivering layerless, high-resolution parts with high- quality surface finish and resolution. The newer M2 printer has twice the build volume, allowing for larger parts, higher throughput and lower part cost, all with the same high-resolution pixels (75 µm) and isotropic prints as Carbon's M1 printer. The Smart Part Washer uses optimized wash protocols so that every part is cleaned consistently with minimal manual labor. The SpeedCell is a system of connected manufacturing unit opera- tions that enables repeatable production of end-use parts at any scale. The M Series printers and the auto- mated Smart Part Washer are the first in a series of modular offer- ings that allow a wide range of industries to design, engineer, and build end-use parts with one common manufacturing workflow. There are other aspects that set Carbon apart too. It offers a unique subscription-based model for its 3D printing systems. The company's approach combines connected, data-centric hardware with regular, over-the-air software updates that take place approximately every six weeks. DeSimone says the subscription model is one of the most important aspects of the company's business approach. "Customers can get a very high-performing machine at a low price point and not worry about it becoming obsolete," he says. "This is completely new to the 3D-printing industry. But it's also new to a lot of manufacturing equipment. Imagine having your injection molding equipment able to constantly be improved. That's what this model allows us to do." If the idea of web-enabled software updates reminds you of the electric car company Tesla Motors, it's for good reason. Craig Carlson, who now leads engineering at Carbon, was the former v.p. of software and electrical integration at Tesla. Carbon hired several other former Tesla employees, including Roy Goldman as director of software engineering. He joined Carbon in early 2015, after a little over four years of leading the software team at Tesla that was responsible for the Model S in-car displays, mobile apps and cloud-based systems. "At Tesla, we were really aggressive about bringing connectivity to machines that people typically don't think of being connected—in that case it was cars," Goldman says. "But we thought there is just as big an opportunity for manufacturing equipment having a lot of benefits with that kind of connectivity. We're helping designers and engineers rethink is possible with our technology." ADIDAS PARTNERSHIP One of the biggest partnerships to date for Carbon is with adidas, Portland, Ore., which was announced in 2017. The two companies unveiled Futurecraft 4D, the first performance footwear produced with Carbon's DLS technology. "3D printing is one of those technologies that really can have unlimited possibilities," DeSimone says. "We explored whether we could make a running shoe out of 3D-printed material that really works. And it does." Carbon's software leverages the company's M Series printers and its wide array of programmable liquid resins to print unique lattices that can replace materials such as in-shoe midsoles. What is espe- cially unique is Carbon's ability to design and make tunable lattices depending on customer application needs. Engineers for the first time can 3D print multiple unique functional zones within the same monolithic part and tune the mechanical properties within each of these functional zones to the application requirements. These are among the M Series 3D printers that Carbon runs in Silicon Valley. 12 NOVEMBER 2018 Plastics Technology PTonline.com A D D I T I V E M A N U F A C T U R I N G Close -Up On Technolog y

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