Modular Data Center Prototype Components Created by 3-D Printer

A number of organizations have harnessed the power of 3-D printers to fabricate a range of objects, from football cleats to car parts to prosthetic limbs. IO Data Centers is utilizing the technology to print prototype components for its modular data center designs, as reported by 

The process includes printing each separate piece of the modular data center and testing how well the components fit together. These modular parts include the necessary structures to support server racks, power supplies and the cooling infrastructure as part of the organization's IO.Anywhere data center modules, noted 3ders. IO vice president Andreas Zoll said the technology enables the company to speed up testing timelines.

In addition, the 3-D printers also help with the design and restructuring phases. Previously, IO outsourced manufacturing of its modular data center parts to a third party organization, which increased operating costs and slowed overall time to market. For example, if the company wanted to design a new light-fixture bracket, it would have to spend $300 to $400 and wait as long as two weeks for the piece to be made and sent to them.

However, by using a 3-D printer instead, Zoll said the same type of bracket can be produced in-house within a few hours, for a fraction of the price, as low as 75 cents.

"I can get it rather fast and for a low price," Zoll said. "If it doesn't work out, we can immediately go back to the drawing table and come up with another design."

So far, IO has utilized the technology to produce door handles, hanging wire solutions, items for securing equipment, as well as reduced-size modules of the modular data centers and associated infrastructure components for design reviews.

"It's almost like a chess game. We can move things around, in and out, trying to create efficiency during the design processes, right at the front-end," Zoll said. 

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