Plastics repair innovator Plastfix has developed an automated headlight repair system using 3D printing anda custom made 3D printing material, in collaboration with research partners Swinburne University and the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC).
After 3 years of intense research and development, Plastfix developed the first known prototype of the automated repair system using state of the art robotics, software algorithms, 3D scanning and a custom automotive compatible polypropylene based 3D printing material.
“To think 3 years ago this was a crazy idea and now we are witnessing a robot repair a broken tab on a headlight using 3D printing is just astonishing,” Plastfix and Tradiebot Industries owner, Mario Dimovski, said.
“Our end goal is to have these Repairbot units on the shelf for sale for sale by the start of next year retailing for approximately $20,000 USD including an ongoing subscription and material cost.”
The patented solution is moving the company towards expanding its repair range and commercialising a more compact, industry suited, automated system that would be affordable and easily utilised in any collision repair facility worldwide. The network of Repairbots will be supported by Plastfix’s central control centre in Europe, managed via a cloud-based inventory of repair programs and headlight tab CAD data.
“We are currently exploring all market opportunities with collision groups, OEM’s and part suppliers to determinethe best fit for our solution. In the end, if we can assist the industry to repair more headlights instead of buying new, reducing repair costs and divert them from landfill, it’s a win for both business, consumers and the environment,” Dimocski said.
The system essentially replicates the manual lug repair-kit solution that OEMs use to replace broken tabs a for certain headlights. Instead of screwing the tabs into the provided repair points on the headlight, however, the Repairbot system 3D prints a set of staking posts and uses a heat staking method to attach the pre-manufactured tab that results in a cleaner outcome than the screw heads being exposed.
Research and testing is ongoing, with plans to 3D print the entire replacement tab directly onto the headlight as materials and technology evolve.
Plastfix is a pioneer in plastics repair related in the collision repair industry, managing over 40,000 plastic part repairs per year and growing, across both Australia and New Zealand.