Printing a Shock
Although this shock absorber is just a demonstration device, its fabrication is rather clever as the materials company that made it, Covestro, used three different materials and three different 3D fabrication processes to make it:
First, there’s the outer spring of the 40 x 7-cm part. It was produced with powered thermoplastic polyurethane via the selective laser sintering process.
Then there’s the adjusting screw that, when the shock is assembled, is on the interior of the assembly. In order to perform well it needs to have both strength and hardness. Consequently, it is produced with a polycarbonate. The fused filament fabrication process was used.
Finally, there is the air chamber. It, too, is in the interior of the shock absorber. It was made with a liquid polyurethane resin with a digital light processing method.
According to Lukas Breuers, a marketing manager for 2D and 3D printing at Covestro, “This complex structure would not have been possible with conventional production processes.”
To assure that the company maintains its capabilities, relevance and leading-edge know-how in manufacturing, Ford has spent $45-million on its Advanced Manufacturing Center in Redford Township, Michigan, just west of Detroit.
If you look at the top of the cab of that Mack Anthem Class 8 truck you’ll note the way it arcs back to the trailer.
Additive manufacturing (AM) is just one manufacturing method that drives advanced mobility forward and also has a history of embracing the digital connectivity demanded by this trend.