By Olivia Cahoon
Three-dimensional (3D) printing continues to gain popularity in a variety of industries from aerospace, healthcare, and robotics to manufacturing, education, and automotive. Within the manufacturing space, additive manufacturing (AM) touches a variety of markets with the ability to produce parts and prototypes that weren’t possible or economically feasible, until now.
Established in 1994, Canto Ing. GmbH is an engineering company located in Lüdenscheid, Germany. The company is certified in development, design, prototype creation, toolmaking, and manufacturing. It offers services from its construction and development offices and manufactures parts from its own model and prototype construction and mold making. Additionally, the manufacturer carries out custom series production.
Three students started Canto with the original idea of Stonelight—a compact stone lamp for the garden, pond, and living room. Together the students designed and developed Stonelight utilizing their knowledge and training as toolmakers. The task was to develop a waterproof and compact low-voltage halogen housing that met the requirements for outdoor operation. The students succeeded and in doing so, discovered a passion for development and testing—creating Canto.
The company handles a variety of products and projects, including the Thor Rev 2.0 high-quality, high-performance diving torch by Thor offshore engineering GmbH. As an experienced technical diver, Tom Bub, managing director, Canto, founded Thor offshore engineering with the goal of developing the Thor Rev 2.0 as a marketable product and with the broader aim of developing maritime underwater technology in professional diving.
Recently, EOS and its AM technology made a significant contribution to the Thor Rev 2.0 project by addressing several developmental challenges.
The Thor underwater light is designed for technical and professional divers for use up to 200 meters deep. To create a reliable product, the team faced a number of issues. The first challenge included the need for highly stable construction. Of equal importance was achieving a bright and variable beam with an extremely small spot and a uniform corona. The dive light’s body also needed to be non-reflective. Finally, it was essential that both weight and size were kept to a minimum.
“In such extreme environments robustness is very important,“ explains Hagen Tschorn, managing director, Canto. “The construction of the light must be designed in such a way as to facilitate the exploration of deep lying wrecks or cave systems.” Therefore, the team needed to develop the lightest, smallest, and best performing dive light on the market.
The design team initially faced a dilemma. While metal met all of the necessary resilience requirements, it comes at an excessive cost in terms of weight. Alternatively, plastics are lighter but can’t offer the same resistance levels as metal. An additional challenge included the cooling and replacement system for the bulbs, which house the LED light source and the electronic components. While LED systems emit less heat, they still require automatic cooling systems when operating at full power. If a bulb fails or malfunctions, the design needs to allow for replacing and changing underwater.
Working together, Canto and Thor offshore developed a light that met these requirements. The design featured a black anodized aluminum housing containing the lighting unit and bulb. To offer protection and flexibility in the housing, the two companies developed a custom connector system.
The locking mechanism for the Thor Rev 2.0 was produced with AM technology that facilitates the production of the internal system—which is snapped into place using springs—as a single, robust, functionally integrated component.
To meet the project’s strict material requirements, Canto selected EOS plastic PA 2200 for its impermeable and durable characteristics. PA 2200 is a white polyamide powder that offers high strength and stiffness.
The material was printed with the EOS laser sinter system FORMIGA P110. It is an industrial 3D printing unit for polymer parts, including nine commercial polymer materials and ten combinations of materials/layer thicknesses. The FORMIGA P110 features a 7.9×9.8×13-inch build volume.
In addition to the locking mechanism, a cover for the glass body of LEDs was additively manufactured. “The EOS technology represents the perfect production process for our needs. Only in this way could we produce these complex components so affordably,“ says Tschorn. The AM process for the locking mechanism and LED cover was completed after fitting and testing results came back positive.
Canto further used AM technology in its product development. Prototypes were manufactured on the EOS system to further reduce the space between movable parts and to optimize the components size. Prototypes were also used for carrying out function and stress testing, which served to confirm the wear and tear levels on the locking mechanism in sand and silt.
The Thor Rev 2.0 is a new product for technical divers. Built with AM technology, it weighs 580 grams and the functional integration results in a reduction of the number of individual components from three to one.
Further, Canto saved on the expense of producing a costly injection molding tool, which would have included additional costs of up to 35,000 Euros.
The dive light’s quality is also confirmed by members of Cavebase—a non-commercial group of cave divers who successfully used the Thor Rev 2.0. “I’m very happy. It’s really robust and proved extremely reliable. The locking mechanism is simple to use and gives excellent haptic feedback,” offers Wilke Reints, diver, Cavebase.
Tschorn is also satisfied with the completed dive light and the use of EOS’ AM technology. “EOS showed us that it supports the providers of creative solutions in their search for new fields of application. The company enables us to offer end customers a complete solution—engineering and manufacturing,” he comments.
Divers Dig 3D
By integrating 3D printing technology into its engineering process, Canto and Thor created an advanced dive light that optimizes the component’s dimensions, weight, and stability as well as the functional integration—all in a single design. With such a high level of reliability and precision, the Thor Rev 2.0 is now used by special units of the police and military in Europe. IPM
Jun2020, Industrial Print Magazine