LEHVOSS North America, a provider of thermoplastic 3D printing materials, has signed a formal agreement with Forward Engineering North America (FENA), a Michigan-based division of global engineering and consulting firm Forward Engineering GmbH that is focused on the use of fiber-reinforced polymer composite materials for the serial production of automotive structures.
Through the partnership, the companies aim to address and fill a knowledge gap in design for additive manufacturing (DfAM) to support the automotive industry. Specifically, the companies will provide guidance to facilitate the translation of performance characteristics between injection molded and additively manufactured parts.
“Automotive OEMs and suppliers want to accelerate product development through the production of functional structural prototypes with Additive Manufacturing (AM),” explained Martin Popella, Sales & Business Development Manager at LEHVOSS North America. “3D printing offers a relatively fast and cost-effective means to produce these functional structural prototype parts that meet demanding performance requirements. However, the right materials and process parameters must be selected to deliver quality parts that meet targeted requirements including quality, consistency and repeatability.”
LEHVOSS and FENA hope to overcome a challenge within 3D printing structural automotive parts associated with the lack of materials that meet the performance characteristics of highly filled structural and semi-structural automotive-grade injection molding resin compounds. They will do this by leveraging LEHVOSS’ 3D printing materials portfolio, including its LUVOSINT and LUVOCOM families, both of which have been launched on the North American market.
Forward Engineering, for its part, has developed a process guide to help OEMs and other customers to translate their product requirements into functional 3D printed parts with the same performance properties as their injection molded counterparts. The aim is to offer a viable production method for quickly developing and validating concepts before moving into mass production using injection molding.
As part of their collaboration, LEHVOSS and FENA have also established an AM Lab in Royal Oak, Michigan, which will be dedicated to supporting automotive manufacturing and product development. There, engineers will be able to work with in-house experts to choose the right materials and processes for their given application and create functional prototypes.
“Successful product development requires the right mix of design, material and process,” added Adam Halsband, FENA’s Managing Director. “The LEHVOSS/Forward Engineering collaboration and establishment of the AM lab in the center of the North American automotive product development region brings these resources together in a responsive package that is accessible to the engineers that need them.”
Popella concluded: “Local support and bringing expertise around 3D printing together will create a hub for the 3DP value chain further strengthening the region and accelerating the deployment of additive manufactured components at automotive OEMs and tier suppliers.”