Collaboration leverages additive manufacturing to accelerate development of automotive structural thermoplastic products and provides 3D printing expertise.
LEHVOSS North America, LLC, a provider of high-performance compounds and 3D printing materials, announced a formal collaboration with Forward Engineering North America (FENA), LLC in Royal Oak, MI, a newly-established division of Forward Engineering GmbH, a global engineering and consulting firm specializing in enabling the cost-effective inclusion of fiber-reinforced polymer composites in serial mass-produced automotive structures.
The collaboration between the two companies aims to fill the “knowledge gap” in Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) in support of the automotive industry by providing guidance in translating performance characteristics between additive manufacturing (AM) parts and injection molded parts.
One of the challenges to using 3D printed parts as structural automotive components has been the availability of materials for AM that emulate the performance characteristics of highly-filled structural and semi-structural automotive-grade injection molding grade resin compounds. With the introduction of LEHVOSS’s range of 3D printing materials including LUVOSINT® and LUVOCOM® 3F into the North American market, the range of applications for polymers has been extended. These materials will also ensure that the products produced from them in many industries are able to meet stringent functional and performance requirements. The LEHVOSS materials, with their application-specific properties, are based on almost all available thermoplastics and are custom compounded to individual customer requirements.
Unique solutions provided by LEHVOSS include a family of high-performance compounds that are available in pellet, filament, and powder formats for FFF and powder bed fusion AM which meet the demanding requirements of automotive OEM applications.
“Automotive OEMs and suppliers want to accelerate product development through the production of functional structural prototypes with Additive Manufacturing (AM). 3F Printing offers a relatively fast and cost-effective means to produce these functional structural prototype parts that meet demanding performance requirements,” said Martin Popella, Sales & Business Development Manager at LEHVOSS North America. “However, the right materials and process parameters must be selected to deliver quality parts that meet targeted requirements including quality, consistency and repeatability.”
Forward Engineering has developed a 3F Twin Process to guide OEMs and Tiers in the translation of their product requirements to functional structural 3F printed parts which emulate the performance of their injection molded twin part. In this way concepts can be quickly developed, validated and translated to production injection molded products.
The Forward Engineering team has been supporting North American clients and collaborating with regional technology partners on the accelerated adoption of composite intensive mixed material solutions for several years. Electrification, automation and demand for cost-effective innovation has fueled a steadily increasing demand for FENA’s unique production-based design and engineering services in the North American market.
Together, LEHVOSS and FENA have established an AM Lab in Royal Oak, MI to support automotive manufacturing and product development engineers to accelerate their product development programs. At the LEHVOSS /Forward Engineering AM lab, engineers can work with the team to select the right materials and processes to meet their application requirements and in many cases realize functional prototypes produced on site.
“Successful product development requires the right mix of design, material and process,” stated Adam Halsband, Forward Engineering North America’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.”
Summarizing, Popella highlighted a key goal of this collaboration, “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.”