The printer's design development, including the operating unit, began with the creation of a suitable machine concept. Three concepts of the Companion – the project's working title – were developed and evaluated. The result was a formally coherent housing design for a modular addition to the units, accompanied by an optimization of heat dissipation through cladding parts and an ergonomically optimized operation of the construction space doors.
On the one hand, the design should be modern, industrial and also meet aesthetic requirements. Ergonomic considerations for the printer's easy and fatigue-proof operation are also very important and were therefore the main focus of our considerations. With usability as a lead factor, the work surfaces were adapted to an ideal working level, which not only makes handling much easier, but also provides an open view on the process. That way, the process can easily be monitored visually. The upward-pivoted installation space door allows access to the entire construction space and thus barrier-free access, even if several devices have been "lined up".
The CeraFab project is a perfect example of how important it is to act at an early stage and in close cooperation between product management, development and industrial design. In addition, our customers benefit from well-coordinated solutions by the longtime partnership between the WILD Group and WILDDESIGN.
WILDDESIGN Team Benjamin Götze, Stephan Zerle, Stefan Bruckmann
One of the main tasks for WILDDESIGN was to improve the opening concepts. Usability of the operating interfaces is, after all, one of the most essential product features for faultless and simple handling of a device.
Initial sketches were used to determine the device's appearance, before the final design emerged after several meetings – based on concept presentations and supported by computer visualizations on posters. To check the ergonomic conditions, a realistic model of the printer with a control unit was built.
A special challenge that we had to master together with WILD, first became apparent during the design conception: The heat development inside the unit also had a significant effect on the outer cladding elements and thus had a decisive influence on the cladding design. As a result, the technical components were revised and adapted in multiple steps until the heat generation on the outer surfaces reached non-critical values. A great example of the interaction between engineering and design.
Among other things, the 3D printer includes a database for storing and managing process data. This database enables seamless documentation of printing orders and real time machine monitoring. Thanks to the constantly growing data pool, a wide range of possible variations for problem solutions on the component can be run through in a very short amount of time.
The CeraFab system printer is especially suitable for the (small) series production of 3D printed components in industry and research. Cascading enables the exceptionally high productivity. The CeraFab System printers can be modularly interconnected. Printer control and printing are separated from each other. The control unit and a printing unit form the base of each printer and then enable a maximum threefold expansion to the left. The control unit is then capable of dividing the production among itself. This creates a significant acceleration in production, minimizes risks and creates more safety in processing operations.
The product launch at Formnext 2019 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, confirmed the intended impact of the new printer with terrific visitor feedback.
We are proud to have been part of a milestone in the development of additive manufacturing.