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Automotive injection molder Technicplas LLC, headquartered in Wisconsin, provides custom injection molding for customers all over the world, and the company recently made a big step in its move to digitize its operations. Techniplas, which is ranked #35 in the Plastics News ranking of North American injection molders, is establishing an additive manufacturing center at its California operation, in order to speed up product development. According to Avi Reichental, the CEO of the newly established Techniplas Digital, a dozen 3D printers have already been installed at the 3D printing business unit.

Initially, the company’s new unit will focus on rapid tooling development, utilizing a direct metal printing process to make 3D printed metal inserts for standard mold bases.

In a phone interview with Plastics News, Reichental said about the unit, “It’s coming to life as we speak.”

Avi Reichental

3D printing offers ‘free’ complexity, according to the company, and the technology will help with the goal of improved plastics performance and vehicle lightweighting. Techniplas Digital will also work to develop component production with continuous, high-speed, UV-cured polymers. Reichental – who was previously the President and CEO of 3D Systems, joined the Techniplas Board of Directors as Vice Chairman in May, soon after joining the Board at Nano Dimension – said that manufacturing in the future will be a hybrid solution of both traditional and new methods.

Reichental predicted about the company’s new digital unit, “It’s the future of short-run manufacturing.”

According to Techniplas, it’s one of the first companies to combine embedded computing with traditional and additive manufacturing, and will be working to speed up the migration of smart, developing technologies with its main operations, which include custom injection molding for automotive and other industries. Reichental explained that Techniplas will be able to call upon its history of manufacturing and design to help make a quick transition over to digital-based manufacturing for its new 3D printing business unit.

“We will take what we have done extremely well over many decades and apply it,” Reichental said.

Techniplas will start by digitizing its current work with smart, connected systems for automotive applications; end uses include:

  • Air and water management systems that control auto cabin air quality
  • Cognitive lighting systems that allow the car, driver, and pedestrian to communicate, as well as offer distinctive styling and branding
  • Active grille shutters to improve an automobile’s fuel efficiency and aerodynamics

In a news release, Techniplas stated, “Through deep learning capabilities and generative design, the company has the capacity to make new products and services that are reshaping mobility.”

The company’s new technologies will be under development in the US and Europe, both of which have multiple Techniplas subsidiaries, including strong research and development centers in Germany and Switzerland. Reichental also explained that the new cognitive systems the company is developing will include plastics.

He said, “We see plastics as the surfaces and in the interface, for example encapsulating sensors.”

This kind of technology is already available in applications like cladding, lighting, and fascia. The goal is to combine computers and sensors to make adaptive, intelligent lighting; the technology can also be used to offer a vehicle customized styling.

Techniplas COO Manfred Kwade said, “For decades, we’ve been designing and making some of the most complex and challenging components and assemblies for the automotive industry. Now we’re applying this knowledge to the new age of automotive design and manufacturing to make our customer’s journey to digital mobility a reality.”

The company is making plans for a large, data-centric management system that will work throughout all of its worldwide facilities, with recently appointed Chief Transformation Officer Frederic Desmarchelier at the helm of the program. Desmarchelier will partner for this project with John Chenoweth, who was recently named the Vice President of Information Technology after previous posts at Lockheed Martin and General Electric Healthcare.

According to Reichental, while Techniplas has experience in factory data acquisition, it will be joining together with other external sources, like startup companies, in its drive to accelerate its new digitization programs. These partners include Nexa3D, Rinspeed, Stanford University, ParaMatters, and XponentialWorks, which Reichental founded. Discuss in the Techniplas forum at 3DPB.com.

[Source: Plastics News]

 

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