Supply Chain

Lehvoss and Forward Engineering Partner to Fill 'Knowledge Gap' in Design for Additive Manufacturing

The collaboration leverages additive manufacturing to accelerate development of automotive structural thermoplastic products.

Lehvoss North America LLC, a provider of high-performance compounds and 3D-printing materials located in Pawcatuck, CT, has announced a formal collaboration with Forward Engineering North America (FENA) LLC. The Royal Oak, MI–based company is a newly established division of Forward Engineering GmbH, a global engineering and consulting firm specializing in enabling the cost-effective inclusion of fiber-reinforced polymer composites in mass-produced automotive structures.

The collaboration between the two companies aims to fill a “knowledge gap” in design for additive manufacturing (DfAM) in support of the automotive industry by providing guidance in translating performance characteristics between additive manufacturing (AM) parts and injection molded parts.

One of the challenges in using 3D-printed parts as structural automotive components has been the relative lack of materials that emulate the performance characteristics of highly filled structural and semi-structural resin compounds used in injection molding. Lehvoss aims to help fill this gap with the introduction of its range of 3D-printing materials, including Luvosint and Luvocom 3F, into the North American market. These materials also will ensure that the products made from them in many industries are able to meet stringent functional and performance requirements. The Lehvoss materials and their application-specific properties are based on almost all available thermoplastics and are custom compounded to individual customer requirements.

3D-printed structural automotive component
3D-printed functional structural prototype for automotive applications. Image courtesy Lehvoss North America.

Unique solutions provided by Lehvoss include a family of high-performance compounds that are available in pellet, filament, and powder formats for FFF and powder-bed fusion manufacturing technologies.

“Automotive OEMs and suppliers want to accelerate product development through the production of functional structural prototypes with additive manufacturing. 3F printing offers a relatively fast and cost-effective means to produce these functional structural prototype parts that meet demanding performance requirements,” said Martin Popella, Sales & Business Development Manager at Lehvoss North America. “However, the right materials and process parameters must be selected to deliver quality parts that meet targeted requirements, including quality, consistency, and repeatability.”

Forward Engineering has developed a 3F Twin Process to guide OEMs and tier suppliers in the translation of their product requirements to functional structural 3F printed parts which emulate the performance of their injection molded twin part. In this way, concepts can be quickly developed, validated, and translated to production injection molded products.

The Forward Engineering team has been supporting North American clients and collaborating with regional technology partners on the accelerated adoption of composite intensive mixed material solutions for several years. Electrification and automation have fueled a steadily increasing demand for FENA’s production-based design and engineering services in the North American market.

Together, Lehvoss and FENA have established an AM Lab in Royal Oak, MI, to support automotive manufacturers and engineers to accelerate their product development programs. At the Lehvoss /Forward Engineering AM lab, engineers can work with the team to select the right materials and processes to meet their application requirements and, in many cases, realize functional prototypes on site.

“Successful product development requires the right mix of design, material, and process,” stated Adam Halsband, Forward Engineering North America’s Managing Director. “The Lehvoss/Forward Engineering collaboration and establishment of the AM lab in the center of the North American automotive product development region brings these resources together in a responsive package that is accessible to the engineers that need them.”

“Local support and bringing expertise around 3D printing together will create a hub for the 3D-printing value chain, further strengthening the region and accelerating the deployment of additive manufactured components at automotive OEMs and tier suppliers,” added Popella.

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