Burlington, Massachusetts - Making crash-test dummies has become quicker and more efficient with the use of 3D printing technology from 3D printing company Z Corp.
Crash-test dummies, which use moulded urethane parts, are high-tech testing devices with a variety of physical and electronic permutations to satisfy the unique needs of each customers, whether auto maker, airline, space agency or military branch, according to Burlington, Massachusetts-headquartered Z Corp.
There is persistent demand for sophisticated new products and features for these anthropomorphic test devices (ATDs), Z Corp. said in a 9 Aug press release.
Humanetics Innovative Solutions of Huron, Ohio, said Z Corp.'s 3D printing technology allows it to benefit from both time- and cost-savings.
"ZPrinting lets us make new parts for the client in a day and a half instead of the week or more it takes when we need to machine new steel or aluminium moulds," said Humanetics Project Engineer Kris Sullenberger.
He noted, "It's also probably a 10-to-one cost savings in materials and machine work, meaning we save hundreds of dollars each time."
A 3D printer produces physical models from computer-aided designs much as document printers print business letters from word-processing files.
Sullenberger's team purchased its ZPrinter four years ago to execute an urgent project for the US Department of Defence during the second Iraq war. The client needed a sophisticated head model to test a new generation of goggles and face shields. The head model consisted of a dozen segments representing facial bones, each having impact data collection sensors.
Sullenberger's team "ZPrinted" patterns and mould boxes, quickly created silicon moulds, and then heat-poured the urethane parts.
"From start to finish, the whole product - design, building, testing and shipping - took six months. It would have taken three months of machine time alone to make aluminium moulds. And revisions would have been a nightmare. Instead, we just reprinted and repoured anytime we needed a change," Sullenberger said.
Today, Humanetics is printing about 200 parts a year, often multiple parts per build. At peak, Sullenberger's team runs the ZPrinter around the clock for three weeks on end.