Within the automotive industry, there are countless ways that 3D printing has been adopted, from 3D printed metal replacement parts, to full-colour prototypes, to custom detailing. Recently, Corona, California-based Design Infini highlighted another automotive application for additive manufacturing: wheel design.
Founded by Suny Chung in 1995, Design Infini has spent over two decades designing and prototyping automotive wheels for brands including Center Line, GEAR and ATD Wheels. At the company’s core is the drive to innovate and keep wheel design rolling forward.
“We have seven in-house designers,” said Suny Chung, CEO of Design Infini. “Our mission is to come up with designs and products that will lead the marketplace, and we always strive to be the best. It’s important for us to engage in today’s fast-moving technology. More and more, 3D printing is going to be a big part of the plan.”
Design Infini has found 3D printing to be a helpful took in producing physical prototypes of wheel designs which can be shown to clients so they can have an accurate visualization of a particular wheel concept.
As Chung explains, “We can visualize from a sketch because we’re trained but some of our clients may not be able to.” Donnie Han, the company’s director of design adds: “The things we cannot explain fully in the graphics, we can show the customer. It also helps us to design better.”
In choosing which 3D printing technology to integrate into its prototyping workflow, Design Infini had various considerations. Among its main priorities for a 3D printer were size (as it required the ability to produce large wheel models), fast print speeds, good surface quality and a versatile material range that would enable the creation of fine details as well as strong, robust models.
Ultimately, the Design Infini team decided that EnvisionTEC’s Vector 3SP 3D printer would be the right fit for their wheel design needs. The machine, based on EnvisionTEC’s Scan, Spin, and Selectively Photocure technology boasts a large build volume of 300 x 200 x 275 mm, fast print speeds and an XY resolution of 100 µm.
“[The Vector 3SP] had the build platform and resolution that matched our needs,” commented Edvine Mallari, a Design Infini designer.
Besides its specs, the Vector 3SP was also selected for its compatibility with a wide range of materials, including E-Glass 2.0, ABS Hi-Impact, E-Model, E-RigidForm and more. According to Design Infini, its current preferred material is E-Model Light, a tough material with high precision capability which is well suited for manufacturing dental and orthodontic models, high quality automotive prototypes, and reliable end-use parts.
Since integrating EnvisionTEC’s Vector 3SP 3D printer into its design workflow, Design Infini has seen positive results in terms of prototyping times, cost-effectiveness and design quality. Importantly, additive manufacturing has enabled the wheel design company to properly express its design concepts to its clients, and easily make changes to the design if needed.