Redwood City, California – Carbon’s 3D print technology was used by Alta Motors to make polyurethane components for its Redshift high-performance electric motorcycles.
The technology was used for both functional prototyping and the production of road-ready parts, using Carbon’s rigid and elastomeric PU materials.
In-house rapid prototyping capabilities were critical to the bike’s fast development. To achieve this, Alta used Carbon’s continuous liquid interface production, or CLIP, technology. “Engineers can get the parts they need and try out new ideas without waiting days or weeks,” said co-founder and chief executive Marc Fenigstein.
With the help of Ohio-based service bureau The Technology House, Alta moved rapidly from CAD designs to real-life validation, before investing in tooling costs for injectionmoulded production parts.
Carbon’s rigid polyurethane material was used to make housings for diagnostics and the charger. Its elastomeric polyurethane was used for wire seals and grommets.
The engineers said they found the material properties of the 3D printed prototypes were a lot closer to manufactured parts than alternative materials for 3D printing.
“The parts aren’t brittle, so we can do inserts or thread form without stripping or shattering the parts,” said mechanical design engineer Nick Herron.
“We can seal grooves and keep out water, conduct pressure and spray testing, and ingress testing. With CLIP, we have a lot more confidence when we go into production,” he added.
By using a 3D print approach, the production cycle from prototyping and design to validation and then production was made more streamlined. “The additive process allows us to iterate in days, and kick off tooling within weeks,” said engineering programme manager Jim Robbins.
“In the past, soft-tooling a component would take weeks, and trying out different concepts would require a new soft tool every time,” he continued.
Alta and Carbon are experimenting with printing parts for serial production. This would shorten the production cycle further, and avoid tooling costs.
Alta engineers are also using the 3D print technology to create new components that could not be made via injection moulding, such as a high voltage connector that consolidates two components into one.