Harbec to achieve superior energy performance by integrating principles of ‘biomimicry’ into advanced mold-making tools and techniques, made possible by 3D printing
March 25, 2014
Plastic and metal parts manufacturer Harbec Inc. has been awarded $400,000 from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to investigate the potential for reducing energy consumption through the use of high-tech molds built using advanced 3D printing technology.
The molds -- used to form injection-molded parts – will include internal cooling channels shaped based on studies of biomimicry, the use of natural designs in man-made materials. The idea is to find methods to cool molded products faster, speeding up the manufacturing process and reducing the amount of energy needed.
NYSERDA's $400,000 award is part of a nearly $1 million project involving researchers from Cornell University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The 18-month-long study will look at naturally-occurring methods of cooling -- for instance, the natural capillary action of lung tissue, or the veins of a leaf -- to find coolant flow patterns that will allow a hot mold to cool faster. By reducing cooling time, Harbec would reduce power consumption necessary in the cooling process, as well as improve turn-around time and increase production speed.
"This advanced manufacturing initiative offers many opportunities to make groundbreaking 3-D printing technology even more efficient, bringing nature's time-tested designs to industry, construction and other businesses to improve energy efficiency," said John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, NYSERDA. "These are technology advances that support Governor Cuomo’s drive for innovation to grow the state's cleantech economy and help businesses reduce operating costs."
The relatively new technology of "additive manufacturing" – 3D printing – allows new designs that are able to mimic complex internal structures found in nature that otherwise could not be manufactured through conventional means. The end result is the development of a new generation of more efficient manufacturing tools. Such efficiencies are even more important to compete in a global economy, said Bob Bechtold, President of Harbec.
“As part of our energy policy, Harbec is always aspiring to improve our energy efficiency and performance. Our project with NYSERDA is a testament to our commitment to evolve through innovation and continuous improvement. 3D printing enables us to design and construct molds in ways we never thought possible," said Bechtold. "We are thrilled to discover the full potential this technology can have for making more energy-efficient molds that result in tangible energy, cost, and productivity benefits for our customers, our business and the state.”
Harbec has a long history of promoting clean energy. The 139-employee firm has developed and implemented a number of solutions to offset emissions, utilize waste and conserve resources. Harbec reached its goal of “no carbon footprint” in 2013. Currently, the facility has a 250kW and 850kW wind turbines and operates a 25 microturbine combined heat and power plant which generates electricity and provides thermal energy to meet the heating and cooling requirements of the facility.
NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect the environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York State since 1975. To learn more about NYSERDA’s programs and funding opportunities, visit nyserda.ny.gov or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram.
Founded by Bob Bechtold in 1977, HARBEC’s mission is to provide tightly toleranced prototypes, tooling, machined components and quality injection molded parts in a sustainable manner with a social conscience. They provide superior customer service, satisfaction and timely delivery of custom engineered solutions. HARBEC proudly foster an atmosphere of encouragement and respect for the health and prosperity of their customers, employees, and the global community.
Harbec provides capabilities and solutions for the consumer product, sporting goods, defense/aerospace, transportation, medical, marine, and energy industries. Harbec has capabilities in the use of innovative materials, problem-solving, and working with R&D and commercial organizations on unique prototypes or engineering and manufacturing groups on high volume production. For more information on Harbec please contact us, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.harbec.com.