Updated: Sep 16, 2021
Image source: 3D Evaluate
After learning how Micro AM is used in medical applications, I was eager to explore another industry that may benefit from 3D printing small parts and components as part of the development phase of new products. After all, companies across different industries face the same challenge: how to produce small plastic parts, with almost no design limitations, in a timely and cost-effective manner in order to accelerate R&D processes.
Meet MultiVu® – 3D Imaging Solutions
MultiVu® is a unique Israeli start-up using cutting-edge technology to develop next generation 3D Imaging cameras. The company’s foundation is based on four years of research conducted by Prof. David Mendlovic and his PhD student, Ido Yovel from the Faculty of Engineering at Tel Aviv University (TAU). MultiVu®’s technology is based on three elements: a proprietary lens design; a unique optical filter; and deep learning-based algorithms. The final product is a compact, single sensor camera that can be used in different mobile phones, medical devices, automotive applications, security applications and many others. For each application a customized camera will be designed and developed based on the MultiVu® core technology.
The First Prototype Challenge
Today, MultiVu® is working on its first fully functional prototype, and the R&D team has to find a way to manufacture parts, with one of them being a specifically designed plastic element that is assembled between specially designed lenses. The part has to perfectly fit with the lenses in order to enable full functionality of the prototype camera.
MultiVu®’s 3D imaging solution. Image source: MultiVu® Ltd.
The first inexpensive option was to manufacture the part using traditional processing technologies, but due to technical manufacturing limitations, the required design to fit the requirements could not be achieved. This was also the case when considering CNC. The second option was to produce the part using a small mould. However, the costs involved with this option were very high because several moulds were needed for different designs required to reach the best optical outcome. This option will be more relevant for mass production.
When Micro AM Faces the Challenge
While searching for the right solution, the R&D team at MultiVu® came across the Micro AM technology from the Fabrica Group (Nano Dimension). The team was skeptical at the outset as their previous knowledge of 3D printing was for larger sized parts, and they questioned the ability of any 3D printer to produce such a small part, in the right material, with the right mechanical properties, and with the required precision and geometry.
After examining the CAD file of the part, Avi Cohen, VP at Fabrica Group, accepted the challenge. It took several attempts and a small adjustment in the design, but a first part was produced in just a few days. Intrigued and amazed how fast the first part was delivered, the MultiVu® team got the printed part and assembled it together with the other elements of the camera. The first tests at the company’s lab showed there was an 85% fit of the part to the lenses. But hey, it’s digital manufacturing, and so additional adjustments in the design were quite simple.
It took an additional three iterations to get the final part and to conduct another lab test. The result - a perfect fit!
MultiVu®’s lab testing. Image source: 3D Evaluate
What Made Micro 3D Printing so Valuable?
The first and biggest advantage of Micro AM in this case was the fact that no other manufacturing technology could produce the required part! This enabled the R&D team of MultiVu® to pass an important hurdle in the development phase of its first prototype.
The second advantage was the fact Fabrica Group’s technology could 3D print such a small part for just a few tens of dollars, in a functional material, with the required details, accuracy, and geometry, and in a very short time frame.
And the third advantage is MultiVu®’s ability to stay flexible during the entire development process of its future products. Each camera prototype will be assembled from different parts, and there is no other technology to support such a process than Micro Additive Manufacturing.
About the author
Founder & CEO
3D Evaluate Ltd.