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The 3D Printing Eleven (6): Short Lead Times (1)

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“ADOPTION OF 3D PRINTING RESULTS IN SHORTENED CYCLE TIMES AND FASTER MARKETING”

Speed is a fundamental advantage of 3D printing that is critical in the race to bring new lighting products to market. When asked, most all of those performing 3D printing will confirm that speed is important in product development and project planning. But how fast is fast enough, and how is speed measured?

What lighting product designers and manufacturers really want is an efficient manufacturing process: one that has only a few bottlenecks, less manual efforts and a quick response. To discover that kind of efficiency, it is important to understand your company’s operations and to learn about the truth about the processing time of 3D printing.

3D Printing Speed: Short Lead Times

In the daily practice, speed is a relative measure, and when it comes to 3D printing, it is influenced by many variables. Simply dividing manufacturing technologies in “fast” and “slow” buckets is misleading. While some generalizations are fitting, few hold true when considering the entire picture of speed.

 

“To reliable measure the manufacturing speed, you best clock the full process: Start the timer at the moment you finish your CAD file and stop it when the printed part is ready for use”

 

The Full 3D Printing Process

The building time, the physical time that a part spends in the 3D printer, is the most common measure of defining process speed. But honestly, it is just one component of the elapsed time that’s needed to complete a full part. The 3D printing process has many different stages, including:

  1. preparing the print file;
  2. preparing the print system;
  3. building of the part;
  4. post build printer operations;
  5. post-processing (such as polishing, painting or coating).

Preparing for Print

On the front end, there’s time needed to set up the job including the orientation, supporting, slicing and application of the build style. Many users are surprised about how much time is needed to prepare the printer, to load or to swap the print materials and to warm-up the printer, especially if you come from a ‘cold start’. Before running a print job, you might need to wait anywhere from just ‘several’ minutes to even ‘a couple of’ hours.

Post-building process

Right after the build process is finished, two steps still have to be taken: ‘post-build idle’ and ‘post-processing’. After a part is built parts may have to drain, binders may need time to harden or chambers may have to cool, depending on the process. These delays vary from almost no time to many hours. For some manufacturing technologies, build time is effectively doubled because parts have to cool for nearly as long as they were building.

Once you can handle the parts, it’s time to post-process them. Every technology requires some form of post-processing, and the time to complete this step varies widely. For an accurate sense of delivery speed, you need an understanding of the actions needed. Depending on the process, these steps might include: cleaning of the parts, post-curing, de-powdering, support removal, polishing or other steps.

Automated or Manual?

When having limited resources available, don’t forget to take into account the impact of labor-dependent processes on delivery time. What happens if your staff is not ready and waiting for the job? And how much time will they need to complete the action? For every manual step, without resources being in place, delivery time can swell. This can become a critical factor and even a bottleneck to delivery. The advantages of automation are most notable in the post processing phase. For example, a 3D printing technology that spits out dozens of small, highly detailed parts in a few hours may have delivery time measured in days if each part requires more than a few minutes for support removal and finishing.

This scenario becomes even more impactful if a skilled design engineer is needed. For example, removing supports made of the same material as the part is not a job for an unskilled worker. It takes an experienced hand and keen eye to discern where the part stops and supports begin. If your resources are so thin that you will be doing all this post processing by yourself, you’ll have to consider whether you have the time to take on this work or not.

Build Time Variances

Build time exists of many different variables, some that you select and others that are fixed. In the fixed category, consider the details of the parts. It is widely known that the height of the part drives time: For every technology, the taller the part, the longer the build time. But many overlook other factors, such as material volume, surface area and part footprint and configuration. Each might add hours to the build time!

Time is a crucial factor when using 3D printing for your purposes and a crucial advantage in product development. However, time is also a benefit that’s influenced by various pre- and post-process variables. To learn the truth about speed, you should discover what affects time and how that translates to your parts. There will be a follow-up post in the next weeks on this extensive topic. Make sure you stay connected!

 


References:
[1] The Truth about Speed: Is the hare really the fastest? White Paper by Rob Winker, Stratasys, Inc.

The 3D Printing Eleven (5): No Assembly Required

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A SHIFT IS UNDERWAY: APPLICATIONS OF 3D PRINTING TO FINAL PART PRODUCTION WILL BE ONE OF THE FASTEST GROWING SEGMENTS OF THE FUTURE LIGHTING MARKET

3D printing technology is likely to have an enormous impact on the future of the lighting business. It will change the way lighting components and even entire products finally will be created, manufactured and distributed. It doesn’t however automatically mean it’s going to be good for anyone involved. The outlook for many lighting companies hinge on the way they will respond to this fast evolving technology and the competitive implications it is expected to have.

Integrated Part Production: No Assembly Required

In addition to the multiple subcomponents required to create a final lighting module, there are also the many brackets and fasteners that are required to hold all the different parts of the product together, such as screws, clips, mounting rings, etc. But with 3D printing, such complexity is free. Intricate structures can be created without the need for direct machine-tool access, reducing the need for multiple subcomponents. Instead of being built together from many different components, it is manufactured as a single piece. Eliminating 95 percent (or the half, or less) of all the pieces required for assembly is almost certainly a good thing for any business. But what will be the implications for the producers of each of those “lower-level items”? Logically speaking: their support will not be needed anymore.

 

“Eliminating multiple pieces through integrated parts production is a very attractive scenario. But what will the implications be for the producers of each of those lower-level items?”


Subcomponents: Subject to Elimination

The closer you are to producing subcomponents that are not core to the function of higher-level assemblies – e.g. that screw that holds a PCB on the top of a complex heat sink -, the more strategic the uncertainty you may face. If the need for assembly is significantly reduced (or even eliminated), ancillary components may become unnecessary and therefore, they are subject to elimination. Most companies are still in the very early stages of exploring the impact that 3D printing can have beyond its traditional role as a driver of rapid prototyping, but nonetheless, a shift is underway. It’s worth to reflect your companies capabilities, your core business and to think about the future.

What to do next?
There are a couple of steps that lighting company leaders can begin to take to position themselves for success, rather than being possible obsolescence, in an 3D printing-enabled marketplace:

Understand your position in the overall supply chain.
Do your company’s products facilitate the assembly of a complicated, higher-level assembly? If so, and especially if your product’s function is incidental to the function of the higher-level assembly, then your business may be at long-term risk from 3D printing diffusion. You might want to think about how subcomponent elimination might affect your position in the supply chain.

• Get a feeling about how your supply-chain partners approach 3D printing
Are they moving beyond rapid prototyping applications to manufacture for end use? If yes, then time may be of the essence. Consider how your company will develop the technical capability to match or better exceed your competitors’ and other supply chain partners’ ability to disintermediate you. If not, please start looking for opportunities to strike as a first mover to blunt competitors’ future efforts. Either way, you want to position your company to benefit from possible part consolidations rather than being hurt by them.

Supply Chain Consolidation

It is increasingly possible to imagine an 3D printing-driven shift toward supply chain consolidation, even as 3D printing technology is celebrated for democratizing production in other ways. AM technologies are rapidly evolving, and key aspects of their value proposition are increasingly clear. If not free, complexity is, at a minimum, getting less expensive. That may be a generally good thing, but some lighting companies may suffer in the transition, just like many others did in the transition from conventional light sources towards led based solutions.

Apart from making our readers aware of the many benefits of 3D printing technology, this article is also meant to raise awareness for the impact it might have on the near future business and how it could force established companies to reflect the way they are doing business and to understand their place in the overall supply chain, now and in the near future.

We’ll be back soon with Volume 6 and learn how ‘short lead times’ will result in shorter cycle times and faster marketing of lighting products. Thanks again for reading this post.

‘Optics John’ – Volume II is Out!

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‘OPTICS JOHN’- VOLUME 2: THE ADVANTAGES OF 3D PRINTED LED OPTICS

John is an Optics Designer working at an R&D department in the Lighting Industry. John has a problem: he has created a new lens design and needs to produce a small badge of prototypes in order to convince his client to choose his product. If choosen, he will also need a small series of about 100 pieces produced for the actual project itself.

3DPrinting.Lighting_Optics John Customer Satisfaction Fast, Affordable and Functional

John has a limited budget and can affort large upfront investments in tools or molds, and he can’t let wait his client wait for weeks on him when his components are produced either, but he needs affordable and functional prototypes fast. John gets worried, even frustrated, and searches the internet for a better solution… and finds one! LUXeXceL offers 3D printed optics and it looks likes this is just what John needs!

Ordering optics on demand, in quantities as needed.
Ordering optics on demand, in quantities as needed.

Ordering On Demand in Quantities as Needed

Let’s have a look to what this means for John! No more costs for molds and tools, large upfront investments are no longer necessary! With 3D printing, optics can be sent to you in days, instead of weeks, or even months! Because you can order on demand, and there are no minimum order quantities, obsolete inventory is now a thing of the past. Inventory can now be digitally stored on your computer, saving both money and the environment.

Optics John: 3D printing enables Lighting Product Customization per individual project.
Optics John: 3D printing enables Lighting Product Customization per individual project.

3D Printing Enables Lighting Customization

3D printing also allow for a lot of new and differently shaped optics to be produced than what’s to be used possible. And the best part: light distribution can now be finally customized. It can be customized per project, per application, or even per single product. John knows enough: he uploads his CAD file to the LUXeXceL website, receives his quote, and orders his optics, which is easy and fast.

Zero upfront investments and ni minimum order quantities lead to increased profits
Zero upfront investments and no minimum order quantities lead to increased profits.

Just a few days later he already receives them by mail. His client is thrilled by the quality of the products, his boss is happy because John has kept his costs to a minimum, and optical designer John is proud to finally deliver the quality optics he wanted. Even for custom projects!

 

The 3D Printing Eleven (4) – Easy Iterations

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“DESIGNING AND MANUFACTURING MULTIPLE PRODUCT VARIATIONS IS ONE, MAKING SURE THEY PERFECTLY FIT THE NEED IS TWO”

In the old days a designer normally had to design a lighting product, then the manufacturer build the manufacturing tools of that part, which could take up from months to even more than a year. After the tooling arrived, the part was finally manufactured and tested, with each new test iteration taking a couple of months. The whole process often took more than a year from the initial idea to the time a final product was ready and available to get marketed.

Lighting Design Engineering’s become easy

Today, a design engineer uses three-dimensional, computer-aided design software (CAD). Now he design a lighting fixture or an individual lighting component simply on a computer screen. After completing and ray-tracing the design and/or it’s functionality, he submit it to a 3D printer for manufacturing, in the house or at a subcontractor. The printer can be filled with plenty materials, such as fine metal powders or plastics, or even a combination of various materials. A laser device literally builds or “prints” the piece out to the exact specifications. Engineers now can immediately test it — if needed several times a day — and when it is just right a new part is born. If not fine, it’s easy to change the CAD file and reprint in quantities matching the demand.

Iterative Design Processing: Easy Iterations

Iterative design processing may be applied throughout the new lighting product development process. Normally, changes are easiest and less expensive to implement in the earliest stages of development, but with 3D printing, products can be adapted anytime during the development process to catch up with changing market offerings. Improved led modules, enhanced drivers or smaller heat sinks may result in an immediate chance or need to optimize a product under development.

Product Iterations cycle
Easy Iterations during the prototype deployment cycle

Prototyping Functional Parts on Demand

A first step in the iterative design process is to develop an inspirational or immediate functional prototype. After selecting the right parts and the assembly, the prototype is ready for evaluation by a project team that, preferably, is not associated with the product to ensure the delivery of non-biased opinions. Feedback as delivered by such a focus group is synthesized and incorporated into the next iteration of the product design. That process is repeated until user issues have been reduced to an acceptable level, and the product is ready for series production.

‘Trial & Error’ TESTING:
With 3D printing you can easily change the CAD file and reprint Or, print a couple of parts together in one run, all of them slightly differing from each other. at low cost, in an extremely short timeframe!

 

Material and Cost Definition

When developing a new lighting product, keeping development and manufacturing cost low is always key. Creating product by 3D printing, the easiest way to reduce the cost of the product is to reduce the amount of material that is being printed. This can either be done by making the product smaller or by removing material from the product, for example hollowing out a solid object. Sometimes it is easy to remove a large portion of material while still keeping the overall shape of the model. The second option you might have is to change the material itself. External influences, such as heat development or ambient temperatures, may however limit your freedom of choice here.

3D printing - Product Iterations flow
3D printing – Product Iterations flow

Short Cycle Times

In the past, performance worked against speed: the more tests you did to get that optimal performance, the longer it took. When complexity is free, the ‘design-to-test-to-refine-to-manufacture’ process for some components is being reduced from years to weeks, or even days, if needed. The product development cycle has become extremely short now: in a couple of days you can have a concept, the design of the part, you get it made, you get it back and perform some tests whether it is valid and within a week you have it produced. … It is getting both better performance and speed.

Thanks for reading Volume 4 of the “3D Printing Eleven for the Lighting Industry”. We will be back soon with the next episode: with 3D printing, ‘no assembly is required’.

Printed Optics now Available for Outdoor Lighting Application

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“3D PRINTED OPTICS OUTDOOR: NOW AVAILABLE”

Luxexcel recently announced the introduction of outdoor coating as a finishing for their ‘LUX Standard’ material. By applying this outdoor finishing, the company enables its printed optical parts to be used in outdoor lighting applications. The coating protects against the influence of sunlight (UV) and rapid temperature changes (thermal shocks ranging from -15°C to +60°C). The protection is guaranteed for a period of at least three years.

Custom Optics on the Rise

3D printed optics are already being used for many indoor applications and there’s been an increased demand for outdoor solutions. The printoptical process now allows users of Printoptical Technology to create custom optical components for the outdoor market as well.

3D Printing – How it works

The outdoor finishing can be applied to the LUX Standard material and must be selected during the order process. The process is developed to fit within the current delivery time of 10 working days.

We’ll keep on watching this interesting technology and can’t wait to see them taking their next steps. We’ve been watching the company for a while, and published some earlier articles on their process for the 3D printing of illumination optics.

Printed Outdoor Lens Array with forestry background.
Printed Outdoor Lens Array with forestry background.

3D printing of LED optics can be, in our opinion, seen as a real manufacturing breakthrough in the lighting landscape for one of the most crucial LED components. Recommended to anyone working in either light engineering or application!

The 3D Printing Eleven (3): Complexity is Free

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PRINTING A COMPLEX LIGHTING PRODUCT IS NO MORE EXPENSIVE THAN PRINTING A SIMPLE ONE”

When using 3D printing technologies, manufacturing complexity is free. The rule in traditional manufacturing is that the more complicated an object’s shape is, the higher the manufacturing costs are. On a 3D printer, the cost for a complex design are about the same as for a simple one. Fabricating a complicated shape does not require more time or cost than let’s say printing a simple shape, like a cube. This freedom in complexity however will disrupt traditional pricing models and finally change how the cost of manufacturing products are calculated.

Unparalleled Design Freedom

To take full benefit of the renewed manufacturing opportunities as offered by 3D printing, designers of lighting products along with specifiers such as lighting designers and architects need to start thinking even more “out-of-the-box” and start rediscovering the new ‘boundaries of manufacturing’. Since no tooling is involved anymore, the constraints as set by conventional product toolings are gone. Freeform products and high complexity components (e.g. multi-faceted) can now be designed and manufactured at zero extra cost. Since software tools are also getting stronger, more versatile and hands-on, even the designer doesn’t need to bring much extra skills, or to spent his valued time on additional design efforts.

“3D printing: rediscovering the boundaries of design and manufacturing technologies”


Creating Winners and Losers

When people say “complexity is free” they’re implicitly recognizing that 3D printing technology can be incredibly versatile. Because it generally produces objects “layer-by-layer,” or even more precise by depositing tiny “droplets-on-demand”, it can fabricate products that simply cannot be produced in another way. This critical attribute could transform the way some lighting manufacturers operate, and it may force others into obsolescence. Consider that many lighting products are currently assembled out of multiple subcomponents. Mostly, this is because of constraints that are imposed by the way these products are designed and manufactured. For example, using traditional methods to machine complex internal structures requires that those internal structures are generally accessible to machine tools and then assembled into a larger component. Now, multi-materials can be brought together in one single print run.

21st Century Design Engineering

Today, engineers are using 3D CAD software, they are now designing their parts on a computer screen. After the design process, they simulate the functionality, and if it seems to work fine, they transmit it to a 3D printer. The printer is filled with a metal powder and a laser device that literally “builds” the piece out of the metal powder to the exact specifications. Accordingly, you can test it and, when it is working well, you have your new part in hands, in as fast as one day. To be honest, some complex parts may require some more time for design and post-processing, and also the design software is not preserved from failures, but this is how it will work in the near future. That’s what we mean when we say “complexity is free”.

Shorter Cycle Times

With 3D printing, the product development cycle’s become amazingly shortened now: in only a couple of days you can have a visual concept available, the product design in place and the fabrication done. After that, you have it available for evaluation and testing whether it is working or not. If not, you can easily iterate the product and reprint, or just go ahead and within a week you have it produced. Apart from significant cost savings, digital manufacturing is bringing us both better performance and increased speed. In the past, performance worked against speed: the more tests you implemented to get an optimal product performance, the more time it took. When complexity is free, the full design – test – iterate – manufacture process is being reduced from months to weeks or, if needed, even days.

Soon, Volume 4 of the “3D Printing Eleven for the Lighting Industry” will be published. We’ll see how easy different iterations can be made on a product design by using a digital design and manufacturing process. Please make sure you stay tuned!

The 3D Printing Eleven (2): A Greater Product Variety

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“3D PRINTING ONLY REQUIRES A DIGITAL CAD FILE AND SOME RAW PRINT MATERIALS TO CREATE AN ENDLESS VARIETY OF SHAPES”

Dedicated Budget Applications

Thanks to the zero need for upfront investments, the available working capital can now be fully dedicated to the core of the project itself: creating new or enhanced lighting solutions. No more financial losses for non-matching manufacturing tools, write-offs for obsolete inventories or dealing with unreasonable minimum order quantities. The engineering budget is now freely available for the real product engineering and optimization work. It allows engineers to choose the best option by trying different product variations or iterations to come to an optimal end solution.

Multiple Product Variations

Instead of being limited to dozens of identical products, 3D printing now enables a designer to fully customize his projects. Even within the project itself, the individual lighting modules may look different from each other, or have different functionality matching a specific need. A good interaction between the lighting designer and product engineer may result in new and unique applications, and even better cover the needs for good lighting for the right places.

Easy Product Optimization

Using 3D design, printing, scanning and imaging software, it’s now become just a matter of creating the CAD file, convert it and queue it for printing. With only one step from CAD-file to end-product, products are now available in a very short time frame. When the expectations are unmet, or different from the expected, product changes can easily be made. A lighting product can now easily be optimized after fault detection, or its functionality enhanced after testing. A variety of product accessories, such as printed optics, decorative covers or mounting rings can now be supplied for project specific purposes in quantities as low as one. Working towards the final product solution, a lighting design engineer now can order various product iterations on a single product component at the same time, just to find out which of the foreseen options suits best.

Enabling Software Solutions

Thanks to the ongoing digitization, new and enabling software solutions arrive to meet growing customer demand. Starting from scratch, new products can easily be designed, or chosen from a pre-defined product library. Next to creating a product design from scratch, reversed engineering can be used to design a new lighting product, to duplicate or to optimize a traditional one. By producing 3D images of manufactured parts, a renewed ‘blueprint’ will become available in order to remanufacture the part.

To reverse-engineer a luminaire, for example, the part can be measured by using a coordinate measuring machining, e.g. by 3D-scanning. As it is measured, a 3D wire frame image is generated and displayed on the screen. After the measuring is complete, the wire frame image is dimensioned an converted into a solid CAD file. Any component can be reverse engineered using these method.

Mass Customization Options

The ongoing digitization enables printing as easy 1 x 1,000 parts as 1,000 x one part. So called ‘mass customization’ is now within the reach of every designer. All of the products applied onto a project may look different. Such a great variety of parts may turn into a project where all the luminaires used look different in appearance, functionality and performance and perfectly fulfill the needs of the customer.

The possibilities with 3D printing are endless and they encourage designers working with light to discover the new boundaries of manufacturing. New product features and enhanced project opportunities will arise and product diversification will be well-stimulated!

The 3D Printing Eleven (1): No Upfront Investments

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“3D PRINTING IS CUTTING AWAY THE NEED FOR UPFRONT INVESTMENTS IN TOOLING AND INVENTORY”

Imagine you are a Senior Design Engineer in charge of your companies’ new product development. The marketing department just came up with the latest market trends and insights and shared their ideas for a new range of lighting products. They underlined the importance of a fast availability of the new products in order to stay ahead of the competition. Equally, there’s only limited time left to the next trade event, such as an impactful Light+Building or Lightfair International show, where the companies full (bi)annual catalogue collection will be presented to a global audience of lighting engineers, designers, specifiers and buyers.

Excellent Team Work

Thanks to the great work of the market intelligence team, accurate information on the latest technology advancements is available on demand. The engineers are doing a great job and succeeds in merging together freshly adapted tech novelties into a new luminaire. Finally, the selection and sourcing of relevant fixture components for completion of the bill of materials (BOM) turns out in successful team work.

There are, however, a few bottlenecks that need to be killed first, at least before starting the physical development process:

1) Initial Mold Investments

Before having a physical product in hand, investments in appropriate prototype and manufacturing tooling, e.g. for heat sinks and illumination optics, are needed. Prices for durable tooling vary from thousands to tens of thousands Euros, depending on what material and longevity you may choose. When informing the Financial Officer about the funds needed he gets crazy. Especially when you ensure him there’s some uncertainty about the exact outcome, and another investment round may be needed at a later stage. All those pain points need to be addressed against a high level of uncertainties. Will the final outcome be satisfactory to all of us? Is there a change that we need to restart the tool manufacturing process to get a properly matching part? Do we need to make any in-process changes? Software simulations are great, but every manufacturing process, unfortunately, has its tolerances. Time pressure is high with zero room for further delays.

With printed optics, the boss will be happy: cutting upfront investments will lead the way to increased profitability.
With 3D printing technologies, the boss will be happy: cutting upfront investments in tooling and inventory will lead the way to increased profitability.

2) Enhanced Buying Power

In order to get the most competitive prices, the purchase department is set to negotiate the best conditions. That will be a tough job since they intend to order a customized manufacturing tool. There’s almost zero room for negotiating, at least not without accepting any future commitments. In fact, getting good prices means large minimum order quantities, i.e. a waste of money and a huge stock since forecasts never work and products rapidly evolve.

3) Warehousing Solutions

The stock-keepers, on their turn, are unhappy when they got told that dozens of identical new products are about to arrive shortly. The warehouse was fully booked for a while already, and the new deliveries make the facility collapse. And no single complaint about maintaining the stock, stock positions and annual balance sheets at a correct level. That’s just their “part of the job”.

With printed optics, inventory is digital: no minimum order quantities are required.
With 3D printing technologies, inventory is digital: no minimum order quantities (and thus high stock levels and obsolete inventory write-offs) are required.

4) Supply Chain Optimization

The operating officers at the end were quite unhappy with all those new product flows. Transporting the goods requires a lot of planning work, handling and coordination before the different components arrived at the companies warehouse for further assembly. Instead of using existing parts readily from stock, new parts are sourced in order to meet the rapid changing market demand.

All Unhappy Workers

In addition to the formerly mentioned, some other frustrations may appear, and at the end, all are unhappy: the financial director lost his money, the warehouse keeper is not happy with the huge load of new products that arrived, the buyers at the purchase department feel pretty uncomfortable as if they did have had no room to negotiate the best possible deal.

It CAN be different, though…

When using 3D printing technologies, there is no need for investments in expensive and time consuming tooling anymore. At the same time, the limitations of tooling are gone since the full manufacturing process went digital, straight from a Computer Aided Design (CAD) file into a real end product. New design freedom and product design opportunities arise without tie and expenses needed, as before. The available engineering budget can be spent now on the real engineering work: find out what’s the best mix in terms of components, durability, mounting features, system efficacy, effective functionality and connectivity of the lighting fixture. It’s become now as easy to manufacture one single lighting module as to replicate it into hundreds of identical parts. All you need is just a 3D printer, a dozen of different materials, a skilled designer and a ‘smooth’ operator.

From ‘Standardization’ to ‘Customization’

Customization is a great thing. 21st Century lighting design sectors and architecture start to discover the ‘power’ and ‘design freedom’ they can unlock and start moving away from standard products towards real customized lighting products for their projects. It forces production badges moving down from hundreds of identical lighting modules into ‘tens of pieces’ to meet specific project requirements. Even specific items within the project or ‘mass customization’ is now possible, meaning that easily 1,000 parts may look exactly the same but slightly differ from each other.

3D printing brings the lighting industry attractive cost advantages that can be ignored no longer. Those companies that understand the added value for their business well and adopt this new manufacturing technology will benefit most in the years to come. They will be able to make the difference in the future of the lighting industry and will be true leaders in todays 3D printing revolution.

The New .MGX Catalogue: Informative and Inspiring

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“.MGX BY MATERIALISE JUST ANNOUNCED THE AVAILABILITY OF IT’S NEW CATALOGUE”

As a pioneers in 3D printed designs with more than 10 years of ground-breaking, award-winning collaborations with leading designers from around the world, .MGX has a great design collection of 3D printed objects available ready to bring a new dimension into the home. The new catalogue is just released and provides a comprehensive overview of various impressive designs as created by leading designers.

3DPrinting.Lighting_.MgX classicsChallenging Technology – Engaging Designers

We live in a society buzzing with technology, spending our days in a whirlwind of impressive images, new products, and an overwhelming number of information. Being inspired by this enervy, .MGX challenged some of the worlds’ top designers to use revolutionary 3D printing technologies to create some special, revolutionary products. The .MXG collection is the result of that challenge: a beautiful selection of lamps and design accessories that do much more than just light up a room or furnish a house. These are products that engage both the imagination and the senses. One of the best story tellers is, if it’s up to us, the “Fall of the Damned” Chandelier by Dutch architect Luc Merx. Apart from the imaginative power, it creates mood and brings magic to any setting while translating the story of a monumental religious painting: a jumble of the bodies of the damned, hurled into abyss by archangel Michael and accompanying angels.

3D Printing Methods

Manufactured by using a variety of different 3D printing technologies, the .MGX catalogue brings together the best of craftmanship in both a modern and traditional way. 3D technologies allow the production of complex shapes that would otherwise never be impossible to create. Each manufactured part is individually sketched, converted into a CAD file, created by laser beam and carefully finished by hand.

LUXeXceL The Movie: ‘Meet Optics John’

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21ST CENTURY OPTICS: A DAY FROM THE LIFE OF ‘OPTICS JOHN’

The life of John, a lighting fixture engineer isn’t easy. It’s though work for him to keep the companies product sellable. It’s rather frustrating that during the product development cycle, continuously better LED chips arrive on stage. So before John’s new fixture is ready, it already need an update. Therefore, it’s quite time consuming for his company to invest in expensive molds and volumes of molded parts.

Obsolescence is causing a huge waste, straining both environment as balance sheets. And Johns boss is not happy about that. In many cases, John is forced to use standard parts and lenses. So are his competitors. The result is that many fixtures look the same. And, there are no attractive options to customize the lighting for a project or application.

Traditional Optics Design: balancing between extraordinary (tooling) cost and long lead times
Traditional Optics Design: balancing between extraordinary (tooling) cost and long lead times

21st Century Optics

Luckily for John, now in the 21st Century according to The Economist, the Third Industrial Revolution has started. In the meantime, we’ve all heard about 3d printing, right? Well, John did. Basically, you have a material. It goes into a printer. This printer heats and melts the material, and deposits it in layers. This way, it can build what you tell it to build. On demand. So basically, now Johns computer can create cheap and flexible inventory.

3D printing - How it Works
3D printing – How it Works

3D printing – How it Works

There are a lot of different 3D printers. Some of them can print plastic, others can print metals, or even ceramics. But none of them can do what LUXeXceL can do! And this is where it get’s interesting for John! LUXeXceL offerst 3D printed optics. The developed a unique 3D printing process, using transparent optical material to making lenses and optical components. Like LED lenses, a magifying glass or even a pair of real functioning glasses. LUXeXceL’s process lets droplets flow into each other before they are cured, with UV light creating a 100% smooth and transparent product. And… there is no need to post-process the products by polishing, coloring or grinding them.

Use of Printed Optics

So what are these optics used for? Well, they can be found in a lot of products. The most common ones would be an average lamp, which has an optical component to direct the light. There are optics in your flashlight, in your reading light, in the train, in streetlights, refrigorators and even in the buttons of your coffee machine. John is happy, because now his lenses can be made digitally and super-fast. Without the need to buy him a minumum order value and volumes of thousands of components.

3D Printed Optics: Design - Print - Iterate - Print
3D Printed Optics: Design – Print – Iterate – Print

Digital – Super Fast – Flexible

With 3D printed optics, there are no minimum order quantities. If John only needs 50 pieces, he can simply order 50 pieces. This is saving him a lot of money and time. Now Johns process to develop and test the lens becomes easy. All he need is a CAD file of the design. This file is directly loaded in the printer. If he wants to change something, he can simply change his design and have it printed again. No expensive investments in molds or other tools are needed, again saving Johns’ company money. 3D printed optics now allows John to do his development easier, faster and better. He now even can help customers with designing fixtures with easy interchangeable lenses, so that for every lighting project can provide a perfect light distribution with ease. Don’t waste your time, money and our environment, have your optics 3D printed today!

‘Meet Optics John

Now, please take a minute to listen to the story of Optical Designer ‘John’ and how printed optics changed his life. He and his colleagues are doing a great job on digitizing the optics manufacturing.

More about ‘John’ and the Future of Printed optics at LUXeXceL’s website. The Future of Optics starts today!

 


Related Stories:

The LUXeXceL Story – as told by LUXeXceL CEO Richard van de Vrie
3D printing of Illumination Optics – Optical quality surfaces – no post-processing
3D printed (LED) Optics by LUXeXceL – Optics directly from the printer with only one step from CAD to optic
LUXeXceL The Movie – 3D Printed Optics: a Day from the Life of ‘John’