Speaking on 3D Printing Technologies in Automotive Applications as part of the Applications in the Spotlight session, Paul DiLaura, VP of Sales, at Carbon and one of this year’s speakers recently shared his perspective and thoughts, with Smithers Pira, on the main drivers for 3D in industrial applications to date, future potential of the technology and applications, and what he is looking forward to at this year's 3D Printing for Industrial Applications.
Q: Can you give us some background on your involvement in 3D?
A: I was previously the North American Managing Director at Dassault Systèmes where I was responsible for all customer and partner relationships. I was heavily involved in the digital transformations that companies were making in their design, simulation, and manufacturing planning processes. I joined Carbon because I recognized the great potential of our Digital Light Synthesis technology to continue this digital transformation into the world of production.
Q: What have been the main drivers for 3D in industrial applications?
A: Companies are always looking to get an edge over their competition, lower costs, and provide the best products to their customers. They are looking to bypass traditional design, production, and distribution process to create faster, better, and cheaper parts to stay competitive. Examples of disruptive tech adopted by industrial companies include digital design, automated robotics, advanced materials, and of course, additive manufacturing/3D printing. Only recently, though, has 3D printing technology gotten to a point where it will really start changing the way manufacturers make things. We like to think Carbon has had a lot to do with this because of our breakthrough printing process called Digital Light Synthesis and our materials.
Q: What is the potential for 3D in industrial applications – which applications have the best potential?
A: Once you unlock the potential to use 3D printing to create functional, end-use parts like we have at Carbon, the possibilities are endless. Additive manufacturing has the potential to completely transform the way things are produced by allowing manufacturers to design on the means of production and skip prototyping and tooling phases. For example, we just launched a shoe in partnership with adidas that has a 3D-printed midsole. Once it’s fully scaled up, it will be the largest mass-produced 3D-printed product ever. Designing on the means of production using Carbon’s technology allowed adidas to iterate on the design quickly, test it with athletes, and bring it to market much faster than anything before it - all with a novel design that yields better performance and, ultimately, mass personalization. We see similar potential across all industries.
Q: What are the current technology challenges and how can they be addressed?
A: The primary challenges faced historically by 3D printing have been the printing process and the materials available. Conventional 3D printing fabricates objects using time-consuming, layer-by-layer approaches. While it has been optimized for prototyping, it’s limited in its ability to manufacture end-use parts. Because of the layering effect, the part’s mechanical properties are often entirely dependent on the orientation in which it was printed. This is one of the main industry-wide barriers to realizing the potential for 3D printing across manufacturing verticals. On the other hand, Carbon’s technology quickly prints parts with consistent mechanical properties and good surface finish, allowing for end-use part production. By developing tunable materials and that are compatible with a gentle production process, we are able to produce parts with truly monolithic mechanical properties to open a new world of possibilities for 3D printed parts.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about the conference?
A: I’m interested to learn more about what other companies have been doing to move the industry forward from prototyping to production while achieving scalability, something that Carbon has especially been focused on. I am also interested in hearing from others about where they see the future of manufacturing.
Additional presentations in the Applications in the Spotlight session include:
- Real production parts using the HP Multi Jet Fusion Technology from SIGMADESIGN
- From Prototypes to Production-- Leapfrogging Through Additive Manufacturing presented by 3D Hubs