There are several automotive applications that can be achieved using additive manufacturing but all of them will not necessarily require the same AM technology. Car manufacturer Ford for instance,  has already demonstrated the type of applications one could achieve with metal additive manufacturing, or Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis™ technology.

Today, another example has been given on what’s possible to manufacture with a resin 3D printing technology as the Spanish branch of car manufacturer Ford Motor Company has become the first in Europe to add the Form 3L, a large format 3D printer from 3D printer manufacturer Formlabs, to its fleet of machines.

The unit Ford Body and Assembly Valencia will use the new compact 3D printer designed for both offices and plants. The automotive experts develop and manufacture plastic caps used in vacuum tests to test for engine leaks. In a press communication, Formlabs states that almost 100 different parts have been printed so far but one particular part has shown how the automotive giant can now go through an entire production cycle from design to end-use part all on site.

With the goal of producing 1000 plastic caps, Ford explains that these plastic caps have to be flexible enough to seal tightly and avoid leakages on the one hand, on the other hand, durable enough to withstand low pressure during testing. Uisng the Form 3L, Ford engineers have been able to pack multiple pieces into a single print job and achieve a cost-effective production when compared to outsourcing production.

For us, it was the first time to use 3D printing for this purpose, but we are very happy with the result”, comments Carlos Cambralla, Reliability and Maintenance Engineer at the Valencia plant. “Sometimes we needed the caps the next day, so it was crucial to produce them as quickly as possible.”

Furthermore, the interesting part is, they found it “even better not to have to rely on extensive supply chains, but to have the autonomy to produce such parts quickly in [their] own facility.”

The Form 3L

The Form 3L was launched two years ago, in April 2019 alongside another 3D printer from the manufacturer. Powered by the company’s Low Force Stereolithography (LFS) technology, the machine features a build volume of 33.5 × 20 × 30 cm and allows for the printing of a part in just 8 hours. Last year, the manufacturer released an upgraded version of the machine that enables applications within the footwear, industrial, and medical sectors.

More Customized Consumer Products With Focus on Materials Development

Today, the American resin 3D printing expert also adds Castable Wax 40 Resin to its material portfolio. Designed for the jewelry 3D printing market, the material is the 30th proprietary resin to be added to Formlabs material library, and the 12th in the last year.

According to Formlabs, it’s easy for jewelers to go digital with Castable Wax 40 Resin. With unmatched casting reliability, Castable Wax 40 Resin produces results similar to blue carving wax, the traditional material used in lost wax casting. They achieved this by developing a 40 percent wax-filled material that is capable of supporting traditional casting conditions. Castable Wax 40 Resin provides jewelers with greater versatility and design freedom than traditional processes all while digitizing their workflow to enable greater efficiency. Castable Wax 40 Resin provides extraordinary end results in a hybrid workflow such as lost wax casting.

“The advancements happening in material science are providing the 3D printing industry with a new level of utility and versatility,” said Dávid Lakatos, Chief Product Officer at Formlabs. “When revolutionary materials are combined with the unique structures 3D printers can create, the end products better meet the needs and expectations of consumers. With our rapidly growing array of materials, we are able to continually expand the list of industries that can benefit from 3D printing.”

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