Medtech Injection Molder Sees the ‘Digital Light’
Interested in additive manufacturing for small-run production, Diversified Plastics Inc. (DPI) went in search of a new technology. The company had been using 3D-printing technology from one well-known provider. “We went out looking for something else,” Annette Lund, vice president for Diversified Plastics, told MD+DI.
The custom plastic-injection molder and digital manufacturer of high-precision components chose Carbon’s proprietary Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) technology and has now earned certification as a Carbon Production Network (CPN) partner. As one of the first plastic injection molding companies to become a certified Carbon Production Partner in the world, DPI is one of only 14 certified partners in the United States and one of 20 worldwide.
Carbon’s DLS technology produces non-porous parts from a wide range of materials customized for mechanical properties, surface finish, and stability. Precision components are manufactured without the time or expense of creating molds.
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“Carbon is next-generation additive manufacturing that fuses light and oxygen to produce products from liquid resins,” said Lund. “We save on tooling and eliminate the need for molds.”
Carbon printers in Diversified Plastic’s facility.
Lund said that the materials used in the Carbon process are thermoset, which is closer to the thermoplastics used in injection molding. She points to the possibilities of using “programmable liquid resins such as RPU, FPU, EPU, EPX, SIL, DPR, CE, UMA, and MPU. Carbon resins also pass biocompatibility tests, and textures are possible.” Materials are compatible with multiple sterilization methods, the company reported in a lunch and learn during MD&M West. Parts could even be painted, she added.
She is excited about the process because designers and engineers can “build things in 3D printing that cannot be done with injection molding.” Part consolidation is also possible, given the opportunity for one-piece part designs, which eliminates the need for assemblies requiring screws and o-rings.
Above: A surgical guide produced using Carbon’s technology
During Carbon’s certification process, DPI’s additive manufacturing team was trained extensively on the use of DLS technology. “It’s important that our certified CPN partners have a comprehensive knowledge base. Certified partners have our full trust that they can produce quality parts,” said Dana McCallum, head of production partners for Carbon, in a news statement. “Diversified Plastics is the gold standard of certified partners. We have been very impressed by how engaged their entire team has been throughout the training process.” DPI’s core additive manufacturing team that took part in training included Adam Davis, additive manufacturing engineer; Gelaye Disasa, process engineer; Alexander Cromett, technical support engineer; Mike Bartell, tooling design and engineering manager; Ray Schenk, senior sales engineer; and Mark Gremmels, director of operations.
“An important thing we learned is how much design and engineering goes into the front end,” explained Davis in the statement. “During the training, we printed a variety of parts with different geometries, each from a different resin. When completed, the parts are submitted to a panel at Carbon for review.”
DPI’s three Carbon printers, two washing stations, and oven (see above image) were installed in December. Jon Danckwerth, Carbon’s production partner program manager, led training at DPI’s facility.
DPI’s in-house capabilities also include design-for-manufacturing assistance, inspection, injection molding, cleanroom assembly, and packaging expertise. The company recently acquired injection molder Pacific Plastics, bringing DPI’s total number of injection molding presses to 31, ranging from 33 to 610 ton machines.