Virginia, US: Lumenium LLC, the internal combustion engine developer, collaborates with Desktop Metal—which offers metal 3D printing systems—to analyse the use of its metal Additive Manufacturing Studio System during the product development stage, with timeline reduction of 25 percent.
Switching from computer numerical control (CNC) machining to additive manufacturing for prototyping of its components, further cost and material reduction are some of the benefits.
The company had stated that rapid prototyping is particularly crucial to allow the quick iteration of part features and designs required for continued improvement of engine performance.
For example, to produce the prototype parts for its Inverse Displacement Asymmetrical Rotational engine, the firm relies on an in-house CNC machine and wire electrical discharge machining. This method of prototyping is time consuming and costly, as full product development timescale ranges between three and five years.
Alongside Google, the US Navy and Built-Rite Tool & Die, Lumenium was among Desktop Metal’s first wave of customer to receive the Studio System in December 2017—in a bid for a more efficient and cost-effective approach towards product development.
Components produced by the engine developer have to adhere to stringent performance requirements. Besides the ability to withstand high heat and stress inherent to engine operation, each part requires high dimensional accuracy, low thermal expansion, and strength under dynamic loads.
To maintain the overall power density and efficiency of the engine, part weight is also an important consideration. This move to additive manufacturing can potentially enable the company to reduce the weight of its parts, while conforming to the engine’s performance needs.
In a case study to compare the production of a steel prototype engine part using a traditional CNC machine and the Studio System, Desktop Metal and Lumenium found that the latter saved 74 percent of cost, 43 percent of time, and a weight reduction of 39 percent.
Cutting the one-year concept phase by 25 percent, design phase by 33 percent, and fabrication phase by 50 percent, the overall product development timescale could be down by 25 percent.
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