In a time when people are becoming more conscious of how their choices and behaviors affect the environment, the sight of a large delivery truck or city bus belching fumes can prompt some steely stares. Lightning Hybrids is on a mission to ease that environmental burden by developing a hydraulic hybrid for trucks and buses. The goal of their system is to help the biggest vehicles on the road save fuel, reduce emissions, and save money.
Hydraulic hybrid vehicles, or HHVs, use pressurized fluid as part of their power source. Hydraulic hybrids recover a vehicle’s kinetic energy during braking and decelerating, and for trucks and buses, this equals a significant cost savings. But to create these hybrids, Lightning Hybrids needed a quick and efficient way to render parts, and they found that the wait time for metal milling was cutting into their bottom line.
“As a small engineering company, we have to move quickly to survive,” says Jonathan Reynolds, Senior Controls Engineer. Lightning Hybrids turned to LulzBot to help them reduce manufacturing time for new and redesigned parts.
With their TAZ desktop 3D printer, the engineers at Lightning Hybrids were able to speed up the company’s prototyping to verify parts’ form and fit. Lightning Hybrids capitalized on a common theme found among 3D printing fans – additive manufacturing is faster and cheaper than metal manufacturing.
“If a prototype part came back from an outside machine shop and it didn’t fit, it would push us behind schedule,” Reynolds says. Using TAZ, Lightning Hybrids was able to manufacture those redesigned parts quickly so the company could meet deadlines.
Building a community
Lightning Hybrids can now, instead of spending days waiting for a metal part, print a plastic part in a few hours and check it to make sure it’s exactly right. The company can catch mistakes before spending the time and money to manufacture the final metal product.
Lightning Hybrids didn’t stop finding efficiencies there. They’ve also been able to make a few needed plastic parts using their TAZ instead of tying up time on their mill.
“We’re also big fans of Libre Hardware,” Reynolds says. “As engineers, we’re excited to make unrestricted improvements to the TAZ and then submit them back to LulzBot and the community.” Faster prototyping, reduced waste, and a healthier environment: TAZ is making a difference in the world, one plastic piece at a time.
3D printing application–Prototype verification
Key Challenges–High price and lost time sending a design out to be prototyped
Key Benefits–3D printing saves time and money; instead of sending a design out to be built or building it internally with a CNC milling machine, we can create the prototype quickly and efficiently.
3D Printing Software tool chain–Pro/Engineer Creo, Slic3r, Raspberry Pi Using PrintRun
Operating System/computer system–Windows 7 and Raspberry Pi running Raspbian