For Oracle Labs, Carbon’s CLIP (Continuous Liquid Interface Production) technology provided the perfect answer to a design challenge. Oracle researchers used CLIP to print an extremely precise bracket hardly an inch in size, enabling a 3D-printed production volume solution for their new research server.
Craig Stephen, Senior Vice President responsible for Oracle’s research organization, Oracle Labs, is charged with identifying promising new technologies that can enable the advanced R&D typical of Oracle’s Labs projects. In 2015, Craig’s team had been working on a demanding design needed to incorporate micro servers to a larger network. Efficient design dictated two separate parts to provide micro server alignment, with thousands of parts per rack. The research team needed a method to iterate rapidly on designs, and a feasible way to produce thousands of parts quickly.
The company is no stranger to 3D printing, and has long used several standard additive technologies for their research and design, but none of the existing technologies had yet offered a solution that could yield the quality, repeatable results that Oracle required for their server. They needed a part that could stand up to the tough requirements.
Conversations with Carbon’s design team, and Carbon’s Production Partner Sculpteo, yielded quick, successive iterations on the first design. After validating the approach, Oracle tested Carbon’s CLIP technology – with success proven by the ten thousand well-printed parts Sculpteo delivered.
Oracle had initially designed the board alignment bracket as a snap-in injection molded part, but traditional injection molding techniques would have been ineffective, as they could not produce the small parts in a timely manner, nor were they able to support functional design iterations. Conventional 3D printing had also proved a poor fit – while the technologies used may have been sufficient for prototyping, the material qualities were subpar. Oracle needed a 3D printed solution with material properties that could stand up to the test of real use in a high-density server.
RPU 70 is the material that made the Oracle design a reality. RPU 70 (Rigid Polyurethane) is tough, stiff, and designed to deliver on the demanding requirements of consumer electronics applications. Carbon’s RPU 70 provided solid isotropic properties, and gave Oracle the consistency and surface quality needed for production.
Oracle required such material properties in a production run of 10,000 board alignment brackets. Printing these with standard 3D technology would require months of printing, a total non-starter. Carbon’s partner Sculpteo, located in Paris and San Francisco, was able to leverage their expertise in designing for CLIP, devising an ingenious solution to dramatically increase print speed.
Instead of printing each part individually, Sculpteo helped design the part to be printed in a literal cube of brackets. Given that CLIP is the only additive technology to truly offer continuous resin flow during the printing process, an unmatched benefit in both speed and strength, Sculpteo’s approach was limited only by how far the Z-axis could be pulled out. Sculpteo was able to deliver the 10,000 parts needed in days, instead of the expected months from other technologies.
“Instead of printing parts by inch,” Craig said, “CLIP let us print parts by hour. That’s game changing.”
“Oracle is thrilled to have partnered with Carbon. Not only did the part quality stand up much better than other technologies we had previously tried, the part itself was economical and saved us a lot of time in our fabrication process.”