“Bocar” company manufactures fire engines with custom undercarriages. The company provides its customers with over 100 vehicles every year. Experience gained since 1992 eventually allows them to produce very sophisticated types of undercarriages, in accordance with customer’s individual needs. During the entire production process, “Bocar” makes use of modern technologies applied in welding, gluing and laser processing, as well as lightweight and sustainable materials such as aluminium and stainless steel. In order to produce composites made of plastic materials, the company uses, among other things, 3D printers.
Fire engine’s manifold printout
“Bocar” engineers are using INDUSTRY F340 dual extruder 3D printers from 3DGence to perform various jobs. One of them is printing a 3D model of vacuum manifold for one of their fire engines. The project was realised in cooperation with 3DGence and its aim was to create a life-size 3D model of the manifold using additive manufacturing technology. This system consists of two elements (pic. 1): left manifold branching to water lines connected to water cannon and right manifold which branches to three separate water lines.
Vacuum manifold is one of the elements creating hydraulic system of a pump compartment inside fire engines produced by “Bocar”. Pre-made mould of such manifold shall be an alternative to manual welding of pipes, elbows and collects. This kind of manufacturing will result in increase of accuracy in produced systems, and what follows, in a lower failure frequency. The manifold is shaped in a way that guarantees the lowest rate of pressure drops and water flow inside the pump compartment of the fire engines manufactured by “Bocar”. Afterwards, the pre-made manifold is being produced through chill-moulding process.
The best test of ergonomics
3D printing technology allows physical examination of every project assumption on a virtual model. Additionally, the model can be installed in a particular vehicle, giving an opportunity to check its ergonomics and its installation. This can be used as a training for workers who will eventually be responsible for the assembly of pre-made elements. Furthermore, the ergonomics will be also possible to be checked by final production departments.
During the process of rapid prototyping, in spite of all the conveniences provided by modern design software, it is still very hard to obtain impeccable product, especially when we focus on its ergonomics. Thanks to the 3D printer, the company is capable of preparing a model which is identical to its real archetype thus it makes it possible for different departments of the company to introduce particular changes even during the early design stage. The manifold model was prepared using 3DGence INDUSTRY F340 printer with ABS filament and water soluble support material. Thanks to the usage of soluble support, after washing out and gluing together the element was ready to be installed. The model’s measurements were around 600x500x500 mm – the whole prototype was divided into three separate elements, that were eventually combined together.
Saving time & money
If a company decides to buy a 3D printer, the final cost of printing a model includes only the amount of money spent on a particular material (around 25€ for kg) plus electricity costs. The only waste material you get during the entire printing process, is the support material which is then 10% of the whole model weight. The price for preparing a 3D printed model is incomparably lower than producing it through chill-moulding process. The preparation of a new chill form can take even several months and the company has to pay for it additionally. Creating all the elements using 3D printer takes around 10 days.
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