RPM to research 3D printing of elastic lattices for industrial and consumer goods

rapid product manufacturing (RPM) is to conduct research into the 3D printing of elastic lattices for industrial and consumer goods as part of a project funded by the German AiF Central.

Through these efforts, RPM will deploy Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) process and use its EPU41 and EPU40 materials.

The service provider has been working with DLS 3D printing technology since 2018 and last year produced more serial production applications with the process than prototypes. Having addressed reoccurring orders of between 200-1,000 units in intervals of 2-3 months with DLS, RPM is now preparing to place a greater focus on creating a ‘knowledge bank’ of materials, design rules and applications using lattice structures.

It has led to the ZiM Project which has been supported by AiF via the ‘Development of elastic lattice structures using additive manufacturing for various applications’ grant. With development and technical support from the Institute for Microtechnology at the University of Braunschweig, the project will target applications that RPM has found to have ‘roadblocks’, with lattices said to add ‘specific product value.’

As RPM embarks on the research, it will look to produce a variety of geometries for evaluation, move through mechanical and performance testing, and then optimise process parameters for serial production. Set to explore directed cooling channels within padded structures; the use of pneumatics to control mechanical function; the use of liquid to control mechanical function; the integration of thermal cooling and heating within elastic parts; the use of air and liquid to dampening performance; and the integration of flow systems within elastic parts, RPM will have a series of demonstration models and process parameters ready by the spring of 2022.

“DLP technology allows us to take a different approach to product and part design,” commented Dr Jörg Gerken, Technical Managing Director at RPM. “RPM recognises that lattices will continue to be a key application from both the technological and material perspectives. After working with regular and irregular lattices in EPU materials for more than two years, we are ready to establish this next generation of production. The ZiM grant gives us the extra fuel we need to perform the necessary R&D and prepare for rapid product manufacturing.”

“This grant focuses on DLS because Carbon3D put serial production at the forefront of their development,” offered Dr Claus Thomy, Managing Director, Sales at RPM. “The material options and reliability of machine processes allow us to cover a variety of new business applications at a competitive cost point. Even more importantly because the material is standardised and validated, it also prints exactly the same way the second, third and twentieth time. When RPS adds improved part product performance using lattice structures that are only available in additive manufacturing, we are establishing truly superior product solutions.”

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