Six Steps to Production with Carbon

December 4, 2018

3D Manufacturing is a transformative journey for organizations and product development teams in medium to large enterprises across industry verticals. Adoption of 3D-manufactured parts in any product requires buy-in at the executive level and an understanding of the process and its capabilities at the engineering level. Based on Carbon’s experience working with numerous industry-leading OEM customers, this process has been divided into a six-step journey as our customers validate the feasibility, viability, and scalability of parts production using Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis (DLS™) technology. Carbon has found this to be a robust process based on its usefulness across products, businesses, and industries. Read further to understand how to lead your enterprise into a Carbon production journey, with detailed explanations of the steps and examples of how companies across a broad array of industries have successfully adapted them.

INTRODUCTION

The ability to learn a new manufacturing technology, test its feasibility, validate its viability, and integrate into the existing business processes to scale production requires a step-by-step approach (Figure 1). While overall process timelines depend on the sophistication of the customer’s product and how the 3D-manufactured part(s) integrate into the end-use product, Carbon’s DLS™-powered process is significantly faster compared to processes that use traditional manufacturing technologies. Implementation of this product development process by some of our medium and large OEM customers led to significant decreases in production timelines—a testament to its effectiveness.

 

6 Steps of Production Development

Figure 1: Carbon process to support customers in bringing applications to production

 

THE SIX-STEP PROCESS

According to Deloitte, worldwide spending on 3D printing will reach almost $20B by 2020¹. Additionally, research done by McKinsey Global Institute states that the adoption of 3D printing could have a global economic impact of up to $550B a year by 2025². However, in spite of all the excitement around 3D printing, there is still limited knowledge about the technology, its capabilities, and how to adopt and integrate 3D printing into organizations’ design processes and production processes. Carbon’s six-step journey to production guides our partners through the DLS™ product development process, from concept to manufacturing.

 

Business and technology leaders are encouraged to map Carbon’s production development process to their existing product development cycles and identify what opportunities lie ahead as they integrate this 3D Manufacturing approach into their existing workflows.

 

In this white paper, Carbon’s partnerships highlight how the six-step process was implemented to bring DLS™ parts into production. The majority of time acceleration is enabled at steps 2 and 3 due to the speed and ease of conducting design iterations using Carbon’s DLS™ technology. Dedicated application engineering resources, production-ready materials, and innovative software tools provide an unparalleled flexibility to carry out design iterations rapidly. Additionally, the process effectiveness is catalyzed by organizational alignment between the customer and Carbon, an aspect the process reinforces at every step along the way.

Every application is unique. Durations listed are optimal situations; at every step, Carbon has worked with customers at the fastest side of the engagement as well as significantly longer, depending on the breadth of exploration then depth and breadth of qualification. Contact Carbon for assistance in developing your own timeline.

 

EXPLORATION EXAMPLE:
Automotive OEM Workshop

A global automotive OEM wanted to find their best applications to bring to Carbon. They started by understanding the technology, requesting a Carbon expert to lead a workshop. At that workshop, they brought together cross-functional stakeholders to brainstorm the best parts to design and produce, then established their own criteria for which projects to move forward with.

 

ALPHA EXAMPLES:
Consumer Goods

Based on the high potential part ideations from the Exploration stage, Carbon delivered early proof of concepts to a sporting goods manufacturer. These lattice samples proved that Carbon’s elastomer EPU material could meet the key performance requirements and stress-strain profile set by the customer. Finally, Carbon identified all open product requirements and captured potential opportunities to improve manufacturability to explore in Beta.

Vitamix

Carbon, The Technology House (TTH), and Vitamix collaborated and redesigned Vitamix’s original part design for DLS™ by consolidating it from six parts into a single 3D-printed component. This proof of concept proved the single part could meet the same key performance requirements of the original assembly. The material passed material and environmental requirements, demonstrating readiness for Beta.

 

BETA EXAMPLE:
Aptiv Dust Cap

Aptiv’s primary concern in manufacturing was repeatability. With the part locked and critical tolerances identified, Carbon rigorously tested across major sources of variation, including variation within a print, print-to-print, printer-to-printer, and across resin batches. With that print data, Aptiv confirmed DLS™ met their stringent military specs and standards.

 

PILOT EXAMPLE:
BMW Side Scuttle

BMW offers mass customization of a side scuttle and wanted to understand variation across many dimensions not captured in Beta. During the pilot, Carbon captured other key data in the process, then optimized the entire process for speed and accuracy, resulting in higher yields and repeatability across the entire process.

 

PRODUCTION IMPLEMENTATION EXAMPLE:
Aptiv Dust Cap to TTH

Carbon handed TTH (CM) Aptiv’s locked production parameters that were defined in the preceding steps and included the print data from the Pilot step. The success of the production handoff was validated by TTH’s ability to replicate the efficiency, yield, and throughput in their own pre-production runs that Carbon had proved earlier and set as the clearly defined standards. Throughout the production handoff and ramp to production with TTH, Carbon provided support in the form of onsite help and troubleshooting to make the transition as smooth as possible.

 

PRODUCTION SUPPORT EXAMPLE:
Aptiv Carbon Production Network Support

Aptiv, through TTH, is currently delivering their part output goals, with the external infrequent help of Carbon’s customer service and support. Network-connected printers and software enable real-time, direct support from Carbon technical partners so customers can maximize their machine uptime and continuously improve their parts. Aptiv is now independently working on their next product innovation using the same steps to production outlined previously.

 

SUMMARY

Carbon’s six-step production process is currently being leveraged by medium- to large-enterprise customers in consumer goods, automotive, life sciences, and industrial segments. These companies are creating highly complex and differentiated digitally manufactured parts previously unthinkable with traditional manufacturing technologies. Working in close partnership with our customers, Carbon has developed a robust process that can significantly reduce time to market for new products, depending on the complexity of the process, complexity of the part(s), and the ability of all stakeholders to align on the key deliverables around material, design, business, and the production process as highlighted below (Figure 2).

 

Figure 2: Key deliverables for Carbon’s six-step production process

 

As a product and engineering leader, if you are looking to embark on the 3D Manufacturing journey and are seeking a partner who supports you every step of the way, drop us a note at sales@carbon3d.com. The Carbon team is ready to better understand your product or part(s) needs and help you onboard our six-step production process.


¹https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/pl/Images/Infografiki/infografika_zortrax_3d_printing_market_outlook_pl.pdf

²https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/digital-mckinsey/our-insights/disruptive-technologies