Global technology company Aptiv has teamed up with 3D printing specialist Carbon to introduce a new commercial additive manufacturing program. The AM program, reportedly capable of delivering repeatable, high-quality products that achieve military standard qualifications, is currently being presented at IMTS in Chicago by Aptiv at Carbon’s booth.
IMTS is generating a lot of buzz around additive manufacturing technologies. And though HP may have taken much of the limelight, there are still a number of players (existing and new) in AM which are putting forth new products, partnerships and programs.
Aptiv and Carbon, for their part, have introduced a commercial-ready AM platform which promises better time-to-market production, more optimized part design and more. “Additionally,” adds Aptiv. “It can help to eliminate secondary manufacturing operations and additional tooling investments manufacturing process.”
Notably, the new program is being marketed as a solution to the struggle of delivering high volume, repeatable parts that additive manufacturing has traditionally faced.
According to an announcement on Aptiv’s website, it has already seen positive results using the AM program to manufacture a fiber optics dust cap. The part, it says, is capable of protecting fiber optic devices and their connections, no matter what the environment, conditions or military exercise it experiences.
In regards to the latter, Aptiv put the part through stringent MIL-STD testing. This testing showed promising results for the 3D printed part, including eight drops from eight feet for impact testing; sand and dust resistance; acceptable torque after sand and dust exposure; legible ID markings after sand and dust exposure; successful salt spray testing after 500 hours at 35°C; and good fungal resistance after being exposed to various fungi for 28 days.
The fiber optics dust cap itself is a fairly complex part, with threads and undercuts. This composition means the part would be tricky to manufacture using traditional injection molding processes. With 3D printing, however, the part can be manufactured in a single process, with little post-processing required.
“This process transformed what was originally a plated, metal part into a plastic part with no plating required, and passed all the required validation tests,” Aptiv elaborates on its website. “Aptiv’s additive manufacturing opens the doors to re-examine what was once considered impossible to manufacture to a streamlined process that has the capability to deliver the same fit, form and function of the design with materials, accuracy and repeatability like never before.”