3D Printing Respirator Tubes Cuts Production Costs 10X

This story is about a respirator manufacturer that previously used injection molding to produce tubes for ventilation products but has now switched over to additive manufacturing. They found that 3D printing tubes with these particular geometries was not only cheaper, but faster as well. Using an Origin 3D printer in combination with Henkel LOCTITE silicone resin they’ve managed to cut production costs by about 10 times.

The company required 100 translucent, durable, yet pliable 1.5-inch tubes with multiple grooved bends and a 1.5 mm hollow core. They were initially quoted $190 per part quoted for injection molding, with amortized tooling. Rather than wait 4-6 weeks for hard tooling, 3D printing enabled them to produce up to 100 units in only 3-4 business days.

They were able to 3D print 30 parts per day for $19 per part, a vast improvement on the $190 per part they were quoted for injection molding.

“Most 3D printed materials are not production worthy because they are not temperature resistant, not tough enough, not translucent, or lack other required characteristics.”

Cindy Deekitwong, director of Global Marketing and Strategy for LOCTITE 3D Printing

Origin Programmable Photopolymerization Ecosystem

Origin’s Programmable Photopolymerization (P3) is an open platform which is similar to other DLP systems but provides some unique advantages. Its responsive print process, for instance, monitors polymerization data real-time and automatically optimizes process conditions for the best possible results.

It also allows you to use third party materials and in 3D printing these respirator tubes, engineers looked into what resin would be best for improving the tubes. In this case a low-viscosity curable silicone resin, a material provided by Henkel LOCTITE.

Open Materials & 3D Printing Respirators

The tubes, as the companies state, are nearly impossible to create using injection molding due to multiple grooved bends and a 1.5 mm hollow core. The project indicates how 3D printing is now competing with high-quality manufacturing methods in both cost-cutting and time efficiency. It also eliminates the lead times for tooling while streamlining product development with faster prototyping. All in all, cases like these show the great strides 3D printing has made into the realm of high-volume industrial production.

Source: 3D Printing

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