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Archive for November, 2015

SAE Racing Team Incorporates 3D Printing in Car Design

Posted on: November 30th, 2015 by The Technology House

This year, we are once again sponsoring the University of Akron’s SAE racing team.  We work with their team to 3D print and manufacture various parts that are used in the car.  We recently spoke with them to talk about this year’s plans and objectives.

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Who is the team composed of?
Our team is composed of multiple tiers of members in a clever layout that allows for a system of checks and balances to ensure the quality of our design. In summary, this layout consists of two team captains who oversee both administrative and technical responsibilities. Beneath the team captains are our subsystem leaders, who oversee the design and production of different subsystems on the car, such as engine and suspension. Finally, we have general support, which is normally composed of newer members on the team. The general support members will help with all aspects of design and production of the car.

 

How many races do you plan to compete in this year?
Our team traditionally participates in multiple competitions around the world. Historically, this will include at least one competition in America, one in Canada, and one in Europe. This year, we plan on visiting Lincoln, Nebraska for our American competition, which will be followed by a competition in Germany. We also plan to end the season by going to Canada to participate in the Toronto Shootout.

 

What are your plans for this year’s car?
This year we plan to focus on improving the robustness of our design and looking into more advanced simulation/testing techniques to validate our designs before the ideas go into the production stage. This is an area where 3D printing can prove to be very useful with its rapid prototyping abilities. By improving our simulation/testing techniques we will be able to build a lighter car without sacrificing reliability.

 

How do you incorporate 3D printing in your design?
3D printing plays various roles in the design/production of our race car every year. 3D printed parts can serve roles that range from just testing fit and finish before actual production of the parts which involves lengthy machining processes, or they can even be finalized parts that will make their way on to the car.

 

What are the benefits you see by using 3D printing rather than traditional manufacturing methods?
One of the most useful attributes of 3D printing is that it allows us to produce complex geometries that would be next to impossible to machine from billet material. Some examples of these complex geometries include hollow parts, sharp corners, and small radii. By taking advantage of the benefits offered by 3D printing for production, we are able to build a lighter car without sacrificing our reliability.

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Stay tuned, for we will write a follow up blog in May once their car is complete.  We wish them the best of luck, and look forward to working with them this year.  To learn more about their team, feel free to visit  their website.

What’s the Benefit of Metal-to-Plastic Conversion? Part II

Posted on: November 12th, 2015 by The Technology House

As the old saying goes, “It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks”-Like converting metal parts to plastic.

We discussed in our last blog, when done properly, parts converted from metal-to-plastic benefit from:

-Cost reduction
-Improve functionality
-Design Freedom

But what industries benefit from metal-to-plastic part conversion? Three of the major industries we have helped are the automotive, aerospace, and medical industries.

The automotive and aerospace industries are converting parts to plastic in order to reduce vehicle weight, and to meet tougher federal emissions standards. The reason for the latter is that certain plastics are chemically and heat resistant.  These plastics can be utilized in the fuel and fluid handling systems.

A major reason we have seen the medical industry utilize metal-to-plastic conversion is for device ergonomics. Plastic products can be easier, such as molding a handle that is hard plastic, but the grip area is a soft rubber.  Another reason for metal-to-plastic conversion is that plastic has a lower thermal conductivity.  Therefore, plastic parts may not be cold to the touch, which allows the patient to be more comfortable when the product is in use.

We have helped a lot of customers over various industries with metal-to-plastic conversion. Contact us to consult with our team about the feasibility of converting your metal products to plastic.

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What’s the Benefit of Metal-to-Plastic Conversion? Part I

Posted on: November 5th, 2015 by The Technology House

We have encountered a lot of customers that have been more active over the past few years of converting existing metal parts to plastic parts. With the proper design, plastic parts can be just as strong as metal parts.  There are three major benefits on why this conversion is done: cut costs, improve functionality, and design freedom.

Metal and Plastic 3D Printed Parts

Cut Costs
Metal parts are primarily manufactured through CNC machining. But there are more options to produce plastic parts. Excluding CNC machining, the more common manufacturing methods for plastic parts are 3D printing, cast urethane, and injection molding.

A major benefit of 3D printing is that you can print parts in batches, thus allowing you to benefit from economies of scale.

Once the upfront tooling cost is amortized, cast urethane and injection molding allows you to mold parts in a matter of minutes rather than hours with CNC machining.

Finally, plastic production processes like 3D printing, cast urethane, and injection molding allow you to mold all the features at once.

Improve Functionality
Certain plastics can have more chemical resistance with exceptional heat resistance. This allows for plastic parts to be ideal for applications like fuel and fluid handling systems. Some plastics are also engineered to be thermally and electrically conductive. Finally plastic parts can reduce the product weight.

Design Freedom
Being able to produce parts in plastic allows you to create parts with more complexity, as well as combining different parts to be built as one.  Processes that produce plastic parts, like 3D printing, cast urethane, and injection molding, allow you to create parts with undercuts, threads, thin walls, and tight tolerances that may not be possible through metal manufacturing processes.

In addition, the ability to mold in features, such as ribs, will give plastic parts strength, yet allow the parts to be lighter than metal.

This is the first of two blog regarding metal-to-plastic conversion. In the blog, we will discuss which industries and applications have most benefited from metal-to-plastic conversion.

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