With a focus on automotive, the proposed work will address the critical need to develop improved methods for commercial vehicle part production. The project also features significant efforts to amplify underrepresented groups in the automotive manufacturing sector by building skills in additive manufacturing and rapid tooling.
Fortify, a provider of 3D printers for advanced photopolymer composites,and polySpectra, a supplier of highly durable photopolymer resins, have received a funding of $3 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop additively manufactured tooling.
The DOE selected 30 projects that will receive $57.9 million in funding from the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO). Those projects ultimately aim to decarbonize the U.S. industrial sector, while advancing clean energy manufacturing, and improving America’s economic competitiveness and workforce diversity.
Fortify and polySpectra’s grant has been awarded along with National Renewable Energy Laboratory, MPI Systems, RePliForm Inc, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop durable direct additive tooling for automotive lightweighting via Cyclic Olefin Resin-based composites.
Both companies have achieved significant milestones as part of their respective activities. The materials producer has recently unveiled polySpectra AR, a Web-based tool that enables a free, in-browser Augmented Reality preview of .STL files; while the 3D printer manufacturer has developed new additive manufacturing materials for applications in 5G and Advanced Electronic Devices.
“More than $8B is spent domestically each year on low-volume injection molding. The work addressed by this DOE award will pave the way for printed injection molding to unlock production applications,” Josh Martin, CEO & Co-founder at Fortify said. “By combining advanced materials and post-processing with lightweight design principles, there is a significant opportunity to make a dent in the time to market, cost, and performance of part production within the automotive industry and beyond.”
As part of this project, the two companies will develop additively manufactured tooling with orders of magnitude improvements on cost and durability versus traditional CNC tooling with cycle times on par with CNC tooling.
Fortify will leverage its expertise in robust solutions for additive tooling to create a next-generation solution capable of producing long-lasting inserts for the molding of production volumes of lightweight automotive components. These parts will be fabricated in a wide range of engineering-grade materials, including polymers, composites, and metals.
With a focus on automotive, the proposed work will address the critical need to develop improved methods for commercial vehicle part production. This advanced manufacturing technology will accelerate improvements in transportation vehicle fuel efficiency and realize the corresponding energy savings and emissions reduction, a press release states.
The project also features significant efforts to amplify underrepresented groups in the automotive manufacturing sector by building skills in additive manufacturing and rapid tooling. Through training and recruitment programs, the team hopes to create a diverse pool of candidates with the necessary additive tooling skills to enter the automotive work force. Along the way, the project team will be mentoring and providing in-kind support to underrepresented innovators, including students and entrepreneurs, the companies say.
Raymond Weitekamp, polySpectra founder and principal investigator for the award, shares that, “Olefin-based thermoset composites have been used for many decades in extremely demanding applications such as wind turbine blades and fuel cell components, because they are among the most durable materials on the planet. Under this research grant, we will leverage Nobel-winning chemistry to directly 3D-print these robust composite Cyclic Olefin Resins. The goal of the DOE project is to bring unprecedented materials durability to additive manufacturing, which will provide the industry with immense leverage for the decarbonization and reshoring of the US manufacturing sector.”
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