Massless prototypes as an alternative to 3D printed physical parts

Additive manufacturing has long offered the advantages of fast printing of parts and quick tools – creating an inexpensive mold that can be used in the traditional molding process. This method bypasses the significant cost and time involved in designing and building a mold by traditional methods.

An additive manufacturer has improved this scenario by developing a free augmented reality tool that enables engineers to have an instant “blockless” prototype of their design in their physical workspace. PolySpectra, an additive manufacturing startup based in Berkeley, California, refers to this as “massless prototyping through augmented reality.”

“Our zero-mass mission is to reduce global energy use by 25% by 2050, leveraging distributed digital manufacturing,” said Raymond Whitkamp, ​​founder of polySpectra. plastic today. “PolySpectra AR is a very small first step in this direction: Instead of wasting energy and money printing prototypes, our users can instantly preview their designs for free. This alone won’t stop climate change. However, in the same way it is now common to ask what Whether or not a move to a physical office is necessary (for a particular type of work), we hope to inspire engineers to question whether a physical prototype is necessary as soon as possible in the product design stages.”

He added that augmented reality puts Poly-Spectra at the forefront of manufacturing additives.

“We are not aware of any other additive manufacturers that are offering ‘non-bulky prototypes’ as part of their workflow,” Weitekamp said. plastic today. “In many ways, it’s a direct competition to traditional 3D printing for ‘like’ prototypes, because AR can now provide 3D visual preview instantly for free. We expect AR to start becoming a larger part of CAD modeling workflows as the technology matures. “.

Massless prototyping through augmented reality has few barriers to its use. “The tool is free and works in augmented reality in the native browsers of more than three billion Android and iOS smartphones and tablets,” Weitekamp said. “We have created QR Code Delivery, so our users can take their CAD files from their computer and easily upload them in augmented reality to their phone or tablet. Most people with a smartphone or tablet less than six years old will be able to use it polySpectra AR Right away, without having to sign up or download anything.”

A strong, lightweight polymer suitable for both medical and aerospace applications

Weitekamp, ​​who has a Ph.D. from Caltech where he researched new ways to manufacture materials, has been recognized in Forbes List of magazines “30 under 30” in 2017.

This path led to his founding of polySpectra and the development of a lightweight yet durable additive manufacturing material that could be used in medical and aerospace applications.

“PolySpectra invented cyclic olefin (COR) resins, our family of high-performance photopolymers,” Whitkamp said. plastic today. “This polymer is not available anywhere else. In terms of mechanical properties, the closest known isotopes are COP, COC and pDCPD.

“Fortune 500 companies use cyclic olefin resins to produce high performance, light weight, and low carbon dioxide2 Products,” Weitekamp said. “Our additive manufacturing process uses about 50 times less energy than the injection molding process. In addition, parts can be designed using strategies such as Structure Optimization to reduce the carbon footprint while maintaining the safety and performance standards needed for the component.”

PolySpectra receives $3 million grant to develop automotive tools

PolySpectra is also involved in express tools.

Weitekamp said the company just received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to create new, highly durable additives to help the local auto industry streamline its supply chains, reduce carbon emissions, and retool manufacturing operations.

This helps durable goods manufacturers design their parts for additive manufacturing from the start.

“This is very rare to find today, in part because most manufacturing additives are unreliable,” Weitekamp said. “The advantages of this approach are a ‘virtual warehouse’, where geographically distributed 3D printers can print parts exactly when and where they are needed. In addition to greatly simplifying the supply chain, this would significantly reduce the overall carbon footprint of manufacturing durable goods. “.