CRL-U.S. Aluminum Leverages 3D Printing Technology to Refine Bi-Folding Doors
LOS ANGELES, CA - May 5, 2014 - C.R. Laurence Company is committed to utilizing and investing in advanced manufacturing technologies for its extensive line of architectural glass and glazing products to ensure that architects, specifiers, and glazing contractors receive quality products that boast a progressive design.
CRL is harnessing the power of 3D printing by crafting detailed components for their U.S. Aluminum Division's Monterey Bi-Folding Glass Door and Wall System, with its versatile glass door configurations that create expansive views and striking indoor-outdoor hybrid environments. In utilizing 3D printing's additive manufacturing (AM) process, digital models of key system components are used by a 3D printer that extrudes thermodynamic ABS filament, stacking successive layers of material in different shapes to build a unique end product. One of the challenges with modifying the Monterey System's design is that its components are complex and time-consuming to manufacture with traditional methods. 3D printing techniques greatly accelerated the design and testing process for the Monterey System, ultimately resulting in quality parts that strengthened the overall design.
A faster production process for prototype components means that C.R. Laurence can engineer, test, customize, and iterate Monterey forms in a matter of hours instead of several weeks or months. 3D printing technology helped accelerate the development stage for the Monterey System by efficiently 3D printing blocks to extend the vinyl cover for the door gap. All in a short period of time, the 3D-printed prototype enabled CRL to produce final aluminum door blocks that are now used on every Monterey System configuration. The engineering team also printed intricate top track plugs that were mechanically fastened to the Monterey's extrusion panel, allowing the system's wheels to roll smoothly on the top track. CRL even 3D printed a new foldable glass corner shim with special grooves to fit tightly into the Monterey's extrusions, when traditionally designed extrusions would not stay in place.
"Exploring 3D printing has already improved our research and development techniques in the pursuit of best practice, and has impacted our overall approach to efficient product design, engineering, and manufacturing," says Bojan Komadina, Director of Engineering. "While we are still in the early stages, this technology has given us the ability to craft architectural glass and glazing system components that were almost impossible to create within the limitations of traditional subtractive manufacturing."
This effective technology can easily produce prototypes for cast or machined parts for products and projects that require extensive tooling or fabrication costs. 3D Printing aligns itself perfectly with CRL's Rapid Customization Program, which enables rapid prototyping and an accelerated fabrication process to shorten production and lead times. 3D Printing paired with the Rapid Customization Program opens up new possibilities for designing and developing effective product components that translate into architectural solutions with smoother operation and better performance. 3D printing has strengthened CRL-U.S. Aluminum's ability to push the boundaries of innovation and traditional manufacturing in ways that can have a positive lasting effect on the architectural glass and glazing industry. The U.S. Aluminum brand has shown exciting promise with the pairing of 3D printing methods and CRL's time-tested approach to manufacturing that customers have come to trust.
About C.R. Laurence
2503 E. Vernon Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90058