TÜV Rhein­land: De­sign of 3D Print­ing Prod­ucts Must Fo­cus on Safety Over Per­for­mance

The China Post - - TAIWAN BUSINESS -

Many man­u­fac­tur­ers tend to put off prod­uct safety cer­ti­fi­ca­tion un­til they have com­pleted their de­sign and R&D stages. If any is­sues arise dur­ing the fi­nal prod­uct cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process, this may hin­der the tim­ing to launch a pi­o­neer­ing prod­uct, when ma­jor re­vi­sions be­come nec­es­sary. Ac­cord­ing to the Gart­ner’s re­search, there is tremen­dous busi­ness po­ten­tial in the in­dus­try, as out­put vol­ume for 3D prin­ters should grow at least twofold an­nu­ally from 2015 to 2018. Though new trends bring new tech­nolo­gies, chal­lenges to ap­pli­ca­tion safety can also arise. Ja­son Chang, a manager with TÜV Rhein­land Tai­wan’s Pe­riph­er­als depart­ment of Elec­tri­cal Ser­vice Di­vi­sion, sug­gests that one should con­sider more than just per­for­mance when designing 3D print­ing prod­ucts. Safety is ac­tu­ally a more im­por­tant fac­tor.

3D print­ing falls un­der two ma­jor cat­e­gories, elec­tronic prod­ucts and industrial ma­chin­ery, each with its own safety stan­dards. Elec­tronic prod­ucts in­clude such items as a stand-alone desk­top ma­chine, which re­quires sim­ple in­stal­la­tion by the user be­fore use. Th­ese items are suit­able for small-scale pro­duc­tion, and use in pho­to­copy shops, toy stores, homes, of­fices, and lab­o­ra­to­ries. Industrial ma­chin­ery en­com­passes ma­chines used in large-scale pro­duc­tion, with pro­fes­sional per­son­nel needed for in­stal­la­tion and con­trol pro­gram cod­ing. This ma­chin­ery is most suit­able for pro­duc­tion lines de­signed for quan­tity out­put.

Safety re­quire­ments mean that prod- ucts should not en­dan­ger the safety of the user’s life or prop­erty dur­ing us­age, in ad­di­tion to just per­for­mance. Take 3D print­ing safety reg­u­la­tions un­der the elec­tronic prod­uct cat­e­gory for ex­am­ple -- the In­ter­na­tional Electrotechnical Com­mis­sion (IEC) 60950-1 stan­dard ap­plies, pre­vent­ing users and ser­vice per­son­nel from fac­ing the fol­low­ing 7 ma­jor haz­ards: elec­tric shock, elec­tri­cal en­ergy, fire, burn, me­chan­i­cal, ra­di­a­tion, and chem­i­cal haz­ards. Pos­si­ble haz­ard el­e­ments and pre­ven­tion meth­ods are also pro­vided. For ex­am­ple, if a unique prod­uct de­sign causes the 3D print head to over­heat, is there a burn warn­ing? Is there risk of elec­tro­cu­tion, or dan­ger upon con­tact in lo­ca­tions users may en­counter? Will parts be­come haz­ardous if over­heated? What is the sta­bil­ity de­sign of the ma­chin­ery it­self? Will the ra­di­a­tion en­ergy emit­ted from the equip­ment it­self (i.e., sound waves/infrared rays/lasers/light en­ergy) cause harm to the hu­man body? Are any toxic chem­i­cals re­leased dur­ing nor­mal or ab­nor­mal op­er­a­tions? Th­ese are all el­e­ments of safe de­sign which must be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion in the pro­duc­tion of 3D print­ing equip­ment.

Print­ing ma­te­ri­als is a core tech­nol­ogy within 3D print­ing, and the three ma­jor ma­te­ri­als avail­able right now are plas­tic, metal, and ce­ramic. In the fu­ture, greater di­ver­sity in ma­te­rial ap­pli­ca­tions is vi­tal for print­ing the best prod­ucts pos­si­ble. In or­der to deal with var­i­ous mold­ing tech­nolo­gies, com­pa­nies should con­sider safety reg­u­la­tions as early as pos­si­ble dur­ing the prod­uct de­sign process. With some 3D prin­ters glue is uti­lized to bind ma­te­ri­als, while some print­ing ma­te­ri­als come in pow­der form. De­signs should avoid any pow­der or glue con­tact with in­su­lated por­tions of the equip­ment. Prod­ucts with no bar­ri­ers to pre­vent pow­der and liq­uid gel con­tam­i­na­tion will face more strin­gent in­su­la­tion-dis­tance re­quire­ments in terms of safety reg­u­la­tions.

In ad­di­tion to th­ese afore­men­tioned safety re­quire­ments, prod­uct de­sign must also meet var­i­ous needs on other lev­els within the mar­ket. This in­cludes elec­tro­mag­netic com­pli­ance, haz­ardous sub­stances, en­ergy con­sump­tion stan­dards, and re­cy­cling di­rec­tive stan­dards.

Though pro­fes­sion­als usu­ally op­er­ated 3D print­ing equip­ment in a man­u­fac­tur­ing en­vi­ron­ment in the past, such equip­ment is now of­ten found in home and of­fice set­tings, ex­pos­ing an in­creas­ing num­ber of non-pro­fes­sion­als to cer­tain risks. TÜV Rhein­land Tai­wan’s 3D print­ing equip­ment testing and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion ser­vice en­com­passes the manda­tory re­quire­ments out­lined above, as well as a 4-cat­e­gory Fit­ness for Use (FFU) eval­u­a­tion, for the client. This FFU eval­u­a­tion in­cludes a dura­bil­ity eval­u­a­tion, func­tion­al­ity eval­u­a­tion, op­er­a­tional/struc­tural check, and user­man­ual eval­u­a­tion. This process aids com­pa­nies in dis­cov­er­ing po­ten­tial risks in their prod­ucts be­fore bring­ing them to mar­ket, in or­der to max­i­mize busi­ness po­ten­tial in the 3D print­ing mar­ket in the quick­est time­frame pos­si­ble.

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