Lime Lite Textural Adventure: A Next Pioneering Step while Closing the Cradle-to-Cradle Circle
3D printing makes manufacturing agile, reactive and immediate. It enables on-demand responses to market changes and consumer needs while still controlling costs, quality and wastage. Embracing additive manufacturing has enabled Melbourne based lighting company Lime Lite to stake their claim on the lighting narrative. Having pioneered the 3D printing scene since 2016, Lime Lite’s next step is to elevate the small deficiencies found in 3D Printing and reduce their carbon footprint through recycling. Please join us on the Lime Lite Textural adventure.
A constant early criticism Lime Lite encountered when selling to the market were the inevitable ‘micro lines’ and ‘seams’ that are found in 3D printing. How do you allow end users to see beyond the bias they have with the word ‘plastic?’
Lime Lite has looked to organic mediums to seamlessly add value to the aesthetic of a new range of products. Traditional ways of post-finishing 3D prints required resource-heavy methods that add to cost and time. Printing with textures such as ‘concrete’ and ‘corn kernels’ add significant complication and geometry to the codes exported for printing. However, this provides two significant benefits.
-Extruders start and end each layer resulting in a slight ‘seam.’ Randomizing this at every layer conceals the seam and embraces the impurities found in the organic mediums.
-Micro lines that are visible at even the most optimized parameters are absorbed by intricate detail.
Lime Lite Textural Adventure – Agile Printing
Utilizing ‘Just in Time’ (JIT) manufacturing techniques enables Lime Lite to have complete control of resources throughout the production and supply of orders. Coupling this with the 3D printing process enables Lime Lite to print parts upon order while reducing waste and minimizing the physical space needed.
Unlike most manufacturing companies, Lime Lite don’t stock their Advanced Manufacturing Hub with boxes that take up rows and rows of space. They avoid having to carry boxes of parts that are in low demand or subject to obsoletion by managing its architectural range via a digital inventory. Cloud-based print files can be accessed and printed when needed.
A housing, a gimble and a ceiling mount are the parts needed to produce a ‘SM Can.’ Lime Lite were able to design and prototype on the fly. The beauty in this process was the lack of tooling and significant costs of setup. Parts that would traditionally need multiple processes or subparts were consolidated and simplified. Aiming to better the current market offerings; the ‘SM Can’ allows the end user a gimble with 10-degree range on motion, hidden fasteners and ease of installation.
Lime Lite sought to use only materials, fasteners and subcomponents consumed in other products of the factory. The result; adding a dynamic product to the decorative family. Completing the family range of suspended track, wall and surface-mounted luminaires.
In a move towards zero-waste production, Lime Lite turn wasted plastic and failed prints into reusable spooled filament. Inevitably a small percentage of prints fail. Broken-off support material, failed prints, and ‘not enough’ end-of-spool threads can now be repurposed rather than being discarded. In looking to follow the principles of a circular economy, Lime Lite now reconstitutes and grinds these byproducts into pallets and re-extrudes into reclaimed filament.
With this, Lime Lite not only repurposes waste but has the ability to control the quality of filament. Flame retardancy, chalking compounds, UV stabilizing and additives to ‘achieve the perfect shade of white’ are some of the components that are vital to achieving the finishes that they strive for.
Lime Lite stock standardized color finishes and tint with master batch ABS material when specified. Only a necessary percentage of tinted filament is extruded and spooled to reduce costs/ space. This enables Lime Lite to remove the need to forward-order and hold stock unnecessarily. This comes with the benefit of meeting order and time requirements while allowing for changes in seasonal color trends.
On top of stock management, 3D Printing proves beneficial in reducing waste compared to traditional ‘subtractive’ manufacturing. Parts are detailed incrementally with each layer; not hacked by cutting, boring, drilling, or grinding stock material. With 3D printing, post finishings (like powder coating metal or glazing ceramic products) and leftover material is reduced, if not removed altogether.
“Digitization makes the supply chain more flexible; it enables the entire workflow from product development to production to be more repeatable and efficient”Mark Lazaro – Lime Lite
Lime Lite designs its products with the intention of being able to ‘future-fit’ parts or sub-assemblies with newer technology. As most OEM electrical components maintain their physical footprints and geometry between generations, drivers and LED lighting modules can be replaced with newer versions. Should changes occur, designs can be adapted without having to waste stock or modify tooling. A universal approach to mechanical fitment means luminaire housings can be swapped out for newer textures and seasonal colors.
By coupling this mindset with only using local suppliers and assembling in-house, Lime Lite reduce their carbon footprint by bringing the end product closer to consumer. Having a manufacturing imperative to work greener, Lime Lite are building the bases to innovate and deliver a more sustainable future.