What are industrial 3D printing applications?
In the era of Industry 4. 0 more and more enterprises decide to implement 3D printing in order to optimize their business processes.
The use of FDM technology is often one of the most advantageous solutions in the production of spare parts for machines and production lines and tooling. In addition, it is one of the fastest ways to make prototypes, including those with complex geometry.
3D printers can significantly reduce production time which gives companies the possibility to increase their competitiveness.
How can you use an industrial 3D printer in your company on a daily basis?
1. Shortening of a new production line implementation time
Plastic processing industry
Geo Globe Poland uses 3D printers to produce prototypes of transportation trays, that are eventually used to secure the finished parts during the production process. The time of prototype creation plays a key role in the execution of the order for the end customer.
Creation of 3D printed prototypes allows to speed up the programming process of industrial robots located at production lines. The implementation time of a new line in a car plant was reduced even by three weeks thanks to 3DGence INDUSTRY F340.
3D printing is a much faster technology for making prototypes with complex geometry than conventional methods such as various types of machining.
2. Evaluation of ergonomics, dimensions, and accuracy of a prototype
Emtel, a supplier of medical equipment, created a new patient monitor model case with the use of 3D printing technology. Project verification was possible through the installation of target components in the 3D printed casing.
The final details obtained with the use of injection technology did not require any corrections. Approval of documentation to injection mold production was very efficient.
The production process of models and prototypes made by external enterprises takes minimum one month. The prototype of the patient monitor was received in 5 days which reduced lead time by 25 days.
3. The element of a production tooling
AMS-systems specializes in machines design and manufacturing. The company uses 3D printers in its daily work to make housings for collection verification sensor. Pick-to-Light systems are finally mounted on production stages.
The optimization of the sensor assembly and improvement of Pick-to-Light sensor stability are the main goals of 3D printed housings.
The thread, the housing element, was often incorrectly produced by external companies which caused problems with detail’s fitting. This caused customer complaints and additional replacement costs. Housing printing improved the sensor’s stability and increased its mechanical strength
Shortening the time of machine completion with the use of 3D printers, made it feasible to fulfill the order to the customer even 7 days faster.
4. Verification of the correctness of the prototype execution
Bocar, a manufacturer of fire-fighting vehicles, used 3DGence INDUSTRY F340 for creation a life-size 3D model of the manifold in 1:1 scale. The company could check the ergonomics, the functionality and durability of this prototype through its assembly.
During the process of rapid prototyping, it is still very hard to obtain an impeccable product, especially in terms of its ergonomics. Thanks to the 3D printer, the company is capable of preparing a model which is identical to expected real detail. It makes it possible for different departments of the company to introduce particular changes even during the early design stage.
5. Testing of tooling design
MB Aerospace is a manufacturer of components for aircraft engines. They used 3D printers on a daily basis to produce expansion sleeves for lathe tools, which are used for fastening aircraft parts during machining.
Production of parts and prototypes on CNC machines is associated with high costs and a long project implementation process. Utilization of 3D printing technology helped the company to reduce production costs and speed up the production of the necessary parts.
3D printing is also used in the testing phase of new solutions. Before the start of work on starting elements, their prototype is made and the machining test is performed on CNC machines. Printing the prototype allows you to check the kinematics and all movements of the machine in the machining space on the 3D printout. Once the right component has been worked on, the entire process is properly prepared, the machine is calibrated and the risk of inaccurate settings is significantly reduced.
6. Mock-ups of industrial machines'
Heavy fab machine industry
FAMUR Group is a producer of machinery applied in extractive industries. Life-size machines can weight even several tones, that is why the enterprise decided to 3D printed eight mock-ups. Using ABS plastic material enabled further processing of the models, which were smoothed and painted.
By using 3DGence INDUSTRY F340 it was possible to print light, solid and precise mock-up’s. The combination of 3D prinst with an RFID reader allows to display the machines’ specifications.
The use of 3D printing for industrial mock-ups is the simplest and least expensive solution that allows you to present your machines to customers or investors, without the need for transportation.
7. Designing and construction of racing cars
AGH Racing is a student research group of the AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow constructing Formula Student racing cars.
For the vehicle’s parts production, the engineers use 3DGence INDUSTRY F340. Thanks to the use of this 3D printer they made a prototype of a steering knuckle, that is a part of the suspension of a racing car.
3D printout was used to examine the design topology of the steering knuckle. The project was developed to reduce the weight and increase the stiffness of the element.
Usually, the knuckles are being made of aluminum by milling. The introduction of significant changes in the geometry of the part makes it impossible for such a complex shape to be subjected to conventional machining. 3D printing enabled students to obtain a prototype of a knuckle with complex geometry in just 2 days at a very low cost.
8. Test of mecanum wheels mounted in a robot
AJmaker company has launched a new model of mecanum wheels, which are an essential part of mobile robots. During prototyping and testing, they used 3D printers provided by 3DGence.
Thanks to 3D printing technology, they were able to verify and improve the designed wheel model. The could introduce new product extremely fast, in more efficient and cheaper way than usual. The possibility of easy and ongoing verification of individual stages of the project is very important during research and development work. Especially at the prototyping stage could occur costly mistakes.
In the case of making prototypes with other available technologies, their cost was several times higher. This was due to the complicated geometry – the wheel consists of as many as 12 elements, 9 of which are made of rubber.
9. Complex geometry dies
Jigs & Fixture
Pure Power Sources is a company that, among other things, manufactures plastic die, which are finally used as elements of production lines. All dies that are used to base or inspect the products on the line are currently made with a 3D printer.
Before buying a professional FDM machine, the company faced several challenges. In the case of die plates, it had a very strong competition using similar technologies and therefore offering products at similar prices. On the other hand, prototypes of elastomeric parts were made on milling machines, which was expensive and took up machines that should be used for different orders.
The investment in 3D printing turned out to be an ideal solution. Today, the company prints durable and damage resistant dies with complex geometry.
10. Drone housing
FPV Polska uses 3D printing technology to produce elements for its drones. The company made a housing for the aerial vehicle in order that protects the parts inside the machine from mechanical damage. Due to the small series of production, the engineers could not afford to make the housing with much more expensive conventional technologies.
The housing was 3D printed with the use of material reinforced with carbon fiber, thank to this solution the rigidity and durability of the part have been increased. The 3D printout was distinguished by its lightweight and stiff construction. The company could easily mount there camera, LEDs and alarm. The prototype, after previous mild tests, passed the impact test.