KIMYA helps ASCA to illuminate the Novartis Pavillon

While the Novartis Pavillon in Basel, Switzerland, was opened in the spring of 2022, the media architecture studio IART AG and the firm of architects AMDL Circle revealed the digital media façade of the building dedicated to scientific learning. The two entities have exploited the solar technology of ASCA, the global market leader in organic photovoltaics (OPV), in order to power the thousands of LEDs embedded within the media façade. To successfully implement this flagship project, ASCA decided to exploit KIMYA’s expertise for 3D printing of the bespoke cable guides incorporated within the electrical protection covers of its OPV modules at the very heart of the creative process of the media façade. This joint project is a perfect example of pooling the skills possessed within the ARMOR group, to which both ASCA and KIMYA belong.

Crédits photos : iart ag.

Short-deadline volume challenge

In order to guarantee the aesthetic qualities of the façade, this project required the system for fixing the OPV modules to the building’s structure and the electric cables to be installed at the same level, more specifically in the corners of the modules. In order to avoid all electrical risks and cable compression issues, ASCA designed a part for retaining the electric cable in a well-defined position. The company then called on KIMYA to tackle a significant challenge, namely to rapidly produce a high volume of cable guides in order to complete the installation of the modules produced by ASCA to provide power for the media façade of the Novartis Pavillon.KIMYA therefore produced no less than 16,000 parts in just five months via continuous use of six Ultimaker 3D printers, able to simultaneously produce multiple parts thanks to the size of the printing plate. These cable guides therefore complement the 12,000 ASCA modules designed for the project.

“KIMYA’s solution satisfied our requirements perfectly, namely to rapidly produce a series of parts whose volume did not justify the creation of a plastic injection mold, and which would not have been financially competitive if we had used the 3D printers typically used for small projects”, states Bas van der Wiel, Head of Integration at ASCA

Crédits photos : IART AG.

Agility provides the key to success

Despite the scale and urgency of the request, personnel at ASCA and KIMYA mobilized their forces to design a part with enhanced functionality. In addition to holding the cable in place, the two partners developed a mounting which is also an insulator to avoid short circuits, designed to facilitate the application of adhesive during assembly. The part has also been designed to prevent the cable from coming out of its protective housing. In just a few exchanges, KIMYA managed to produce a bespoke part designed by ASCA capable of perfectly adapting to the metal sleeve and injection molded plastic cover during assembly.

Choice of material and process

The question of the material was obviously fundamental. The printed part had to offer high resistance. Especially easy to print, ASCA tested the efficiency of Polylactic Acid (PLA) in its climate chamber. But the results were not as hoped for: the part does not meet the technical constraints, particularly in terms of mechanical strength.

The solar expert then turned to KIMYA, whose expertise in bespoke 3D materials formulation was immediately put to use in the production of functional finished parts. The experts at KIMYA therefore focused material selection on a filament better adapted for outside applications: the Kimya PETG-S, made via the co-polymerization of PET. A polymer in the saturated polyester family, this material is molded at low pressure and offers a perfect balance between flexibility and mechanical resistance. Accessible in terms of price, the Kimya PETG-S is both hydrophobic and resistant to temperatures of up to 70°C and to chemical agents. This filament is therefore ideal for the meteorological conditions inherent to a building façade project.

Finally, the KIMYA teams decided to use Ultimaker S5 printers for the production of 16,000 parts and to guarantee the repeatability of the process. A choice motivated by the close relationship with the technical teams of the Dutch 3D printer manufacturer to optimize printing profiles with Kimya filaments.

“KIMYA has been one of the first companies submitting filament profiles on the Ultimaker marketplace, since its launch in 2018. It is a privilege for us at Ultimaker to work with a partner that is aiming just like us at accelerating the world’s transition to flexible, empowering and sustainable solutions. Kimya makes perfect use of our open platform in order to provide a seamless integration of hardware, software and materials enabling applications for our joint customers. What we specifically value, is that KIMYA continuously develops new high-grade materials, adjusted to the demands and requirements of the market, whether the materials need specific properties, such as ESD-safe, or deliver a sustainable feature (the Kimya-Recycled portfolio)”, explains Bart van As, Product Manager Materials at ULTIMAKER

Our customers say it better than us

“We are delighted to have collaborated with KIMYA on this key project for ASCA. We especially appreciated their iterative and responsive production process, enabling us to deliver the modules on time. KIMYA was able to fully meet our exacting specifications for successful project conclusion. The collaboration confirms to us the value of incorporating additive manufacturing within our own production processes, which is why we are already working on further projects with KIMYA”, reveals Bas van der Wiel, Head of Integration at ASCA.