Beyond the Data Center – 3D Print Facilities

When the phrase ‘mission-critical environment’ is used, it’s most often referring to a data center. But the reality is that there are many other environments out there that are just as critical. Any facility that produces complex engineered industrial parts would an excellent example. But uptime is even more vital for a manufacturer that uses 3D printing.

Additive manufacturing, more commonly known as 3D printing, is the process of building objects by adding multiple layers of material, such as plastic, metal or other composites. Specialized 3D printing facilities serve many mission-critical industries such as aerospace, automotive, military, medical, oil and gas, architecture, etc. Any compromise in the quality or strength of parts provided to these industries can have catastrophic consequences.

Subsequently, power disturbances like voltage sags, surges, harmonic distortions, or power outages can be devastating for 3D print facilities. If a machine is interrupted by a power quality event or failure and doesn’t have time to properly shutdown, the entire product batch will need to be scrapped – material in the printer needs to be cleaned up, removed and replaced. Even micro-outages (less than 0.5 seconds) can affect this sensitive equipment. Frequent power disturbances will cause significant business delays, equipment damage, quality issues, and ultimately huge losses for the manufacturer.

The best solution for mitigating these interruptions is an external integrated flywheel uninterruptible power supply (UPS). Compared to chemical (battery) energy storage, a flywheel (kinetic energy) UPS system offers significant advantages to the 3D manufacturing industry:

  • 20+ year design life. It will provide the same amount of stored energy in year 20 that it did on day one.
  • It can operate between 0 to 40 degrees Celsius without any impact on performance. This allows the UPS to be placed in locations where cooling is expensive or not available, such as in unconditioned rooms or directly on the floor near the fabrication equipment.
  • A flywheel UPS can also operate at higher ambient temperatures with less heat rejection, measurably improving cooling loading and costs.
  • The battery-free design reduces installation and operating costs, such as ventilation and fire safety, compared to conventional UPS solutions. This not only simplifies and improves the flexibility of the UPS but may also ease concerns from regulatory and permitting agencies.
  • The flywheel has been proven to be more reliable than batteries, reducing the risk of failure by 12 times and giving operators the peace of mind to run their facility continuously and safely.

There are a multitude of critical environments – data centers, airports, hospitals, etc. – where power is a necessity. For 3D print facilities, a flywheel-backed UPS system will provide clean, always-on power that’s needed to maintain the strict product quality standards of their mission-critical customers.