Process and control today | Dustless Technologies embarks on the 3D printing revolution

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Additive manufacturing helps bypass overseas manufacturing and streamlines product development

Dustless Technologies manufactures universal and economical dust collection systems, making cleaning easy for contractors and DIY enthusiasts. She has designed products and worked with nearly all of the major tool makers, including Milwaukee, Bosch, Hilti, and DeWalt.

Since its beginnings in the 1980s as a creator of an ash vacuum for charcoal and wood fires, the company has grown and significantly expanded its portfolio, manufacturing solutions for dust guards and commercial vacuum cleaners as well as a multitude of support accessories such as filters. , pipes and accessories. Now with 35 employees, Dustless Technologies continues to innovate and lead the market with products sold across the globe.

With this growing portfolio in mind, Dustless CEO Spencer Loveless began to view 3D printing rather than injection molding as a method to innovate and stay ahead of the competition. Without the need for tooling, products could be brought to market much faster without the initial “hit” in tooling costs, as well as bypassing overseas manufacturing. Product development would also benefit from much needed additional flexibility with 3D printing allowing small design adjustments in the early stages.

The challenge

“We were on a mission to find a way around injection molding,” says Spencer Loveless, CEO of Dustless. “We tried to go ahead with injection molding, and it didn’t work, so we looked at 3D printing as the other option. We met Photocentric at a trade show and were very impressed with their products. We looked at other options in the 3D industry to see what other options people had to replace injection molding, and we really didn’t find anything. A lot of people claimed they had the skills to do it, but no one else had the right qualities in my opinion. Photocentric had a few key things and we worked with them to let them know what material properties we wanted. Photocentric was very open to the challenge.

Dustless had a series of criteria to meet in order to successfully transition to additive manufacturing. “We had to get the quality of the part. We had to get the cost, and we had to get the scalability, ”adds Spencer. “Either you have a machine that costs a million dollars and you can make a million parts, or you have hundreds of cheaper machines and you can scale. It was our philosophy. Photocentric filled the void because printers are cheap, but you can scale them in a system.

The reduction in up-front costs has been a huge draw for Dustless, as Spencer explains: “With large companies, they can afford up-front costs for tooling. They can afford to pay people for longer periods. The most important was the development time. When we were designing a dust cover for a tool, it took 12 to 18 months before we could start selling a product. Our biggest expense is paying designers and project managers for a year before we can make and sell a product. Our idea originally was to bring injection molding in-house, but this agility to design a part (with additive manufacturing), send it to the market, test the market and change it again if they don’t. don’t like it – that’s huge for us. “

Solution

Dustless has performed a series of material strength tests and tests with support from Photocentric. “It was a revolutionary day when Photocentric sent in some materials and asked us to try them out. We printed some parts with it and tested their durability, and it didn’t break. I thought ‘wow, I think we could have something now’. We then had to lower the price and scalability, but thought we had something that could replace our parts for Dustless. The heat deflection temperature wasn’t quite there, so we kept giving feedback and saying what improvements we needed to challenge the bigger markets.

Dustless has established its own print setup, containing eight Photocentric LC Magna as well as Wash L2, Cure L1, Cure L2. “We started making vacuum components for ourselves and other manufacturers contacted us and asked if we could make parts for them. We branched off and created another company, Merit 3D, which uses the printers and equipment as a service provider for Dustless as well as other manufacturers. Photocentric printers are a great solution for us to print our small parts.

Spencer and his team are now successfully printing parts using Photocentric printers and resins. “As an example, we designed a hose sleeve for a vacuum cleaner that would have previously been outsourced to China. We can print 25 at a time, but we’re working on stacking them so that we can print about 105 at a time, which is pretty cool. As time passes and technology improves, we will be ahead of everyone else. Photocentric machines are ideal for printing smaller sized parts. We’re still looking for that perfect place for a printer that will print even bigger parts, but we see it as the future. We realize we may be on the cutting edge of technology, but we were willing to take the risk of diving into this area. A lot of industries I’ve spoken to have said that we are 10 years ahead of our time and that set me on fire to make it work and to prove people wrong.

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