INDUSTRY APPLICATIONS OF ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGIES
Customer uses of 3D printers in-house in Engineering, Manufacturing & Design Industries
Customer Applications of Additive Manufacturing Technologies
Using 3D printers to produce in-house assembly fixtures
Using 3D printers for in-house CFD analysis
Using 3D printing for working prototypes
IN-HOUSE ASSEMBLY FIXTURE
Expert Tooling and Automation Ltd (EXTA) require a number of custom jigs and fixtures for in-house assembly line applications. Prior to using Additive Manufacturing, EXTA would have outsourced the fabrication of this assembly jig on a 3-axis CNC machine. The part would have been produced in four separate segments, assembled using screws and dowels.
Since adopting 3D printers, EXTA now design with Additive Manufacturing in mind. For conventional machining, the design team would have to redesign this part, as well as produce technical drawings and manufacturing guidelines. They have not only saved on costs, but have significantly reduced lead times.
"Using 3D printing significantly reduces lead time from design to final part, minimising the need to involve internal purchasing and goods-in departments, as well as outsourced fabricators. As we design for additive manufacturing, it also allows us to produce a better fit and functioning part than required, so we save hours by not having to create 2D drawings"
Richard Gardiner, Project Manager
EXTA is a prime solution provider for bespoke tooling and automation systems.
The Tapping Tee is used to create a branch of a smaller diameter pipe, off a larger diameter pipe. Within the Tapping Tee is a cutter, to cut a hole into the pipe wall. The cutter protrudes a few millimetres into the opening and causes turbulence to the flow of air. In order to re-engineer the inner profile of the fitting to achieve optimal airflow, Radius would normally engage the services of a third-party company who specialise in CFD analysis to run simulations. This CFD analysis is expensive and time consuming, creating results which can be difficult to interpret. Once a design change is then made, the entire process must be followed again. Prior to using AM, physical prototyping was not possible as it would have involved creating or modifying a mould and injection moulding a small number of test components.
The AM Solution
Since bringing Additive Manufacturing equipment in house, Radius have radically improved and shortened their design feedback loop. Their Formlabs 3D Printer has enabled Radius to print different iterations of the same component and test them on their in-house flow rig. This allows for immediate design changes and re-testing, at a faster turnaround (hours compared to weeks) and with the ability to run multiple live data test scenarios in-house, rather than theoretical simulations. AM not only realises costs and time savings, but also enables stronger R&D, internal learnings and better components for enhanced performance.
"CREAT3D have been great to work with, simple and straightforward offering the range of printers and resins we need. The use of 3D printing in the business has increased greatly since the initial development of new fittings and re-engineering of old, the expansion of the range of resins available has allowed us to use printed components in robotic prototypes and even in sub-component installation parts where the investment in mould-tools was not justified by the quantities forecast”
Emily Whitely, Development Engineer
Radius develops and manufactures innovative plastic pipeline solutions for the gas industry.
LEARN MORE ABOUT FORMLABS 3D PRINTERS FOR YOUR APPLICATION
The prototype for Astro Lighting's Altea 360 LED wall light combines two materials on the Formlabs Form 2 SLA 3D printer: White resin for the Altea diffuser and Grey Pro resin for the Altea body. Combining the printed white resin diffuser with a working light fitted between two printed parts, allowed the team to replicate the diffusion of light through the model.
Prior to brining additive technology in-house, the team at Astro Lighting would have used CNC milling to fabricate this working prototype. The printed assembly was produced as per the final production part, with a much shorter lead time, giving the ability to rapidly test fit, function and assembly.
"3D printing is an essential part of our product development process at Astro Lighting. The main reasons that we 3D print are twofold; firstly, our Concept Designers want to be able to judge the aesthetic and present their new designs in 3 dimensions, and secondly, our Design Engineers need to validate the form and function of our new parts before we invest in tooling. We have been 3D printing in-house, for the last 15 years. The cost and time saved because of this technology has been beyond measure."
Rob Speck, Engineering Manager