3D printing has been a buzzword for many years, with exciting developments cropping up in many sectors, including medicine, where the first 3D printed heart recently made headlines, construction and automotive.
But what about the packaging industry? Elisabeth Skoda examines three very different 3D print applications in the industry – ranging from reverse engineering more durable parts for packaging machines, creating more sustainable coffee cups and enabling creative uses for packaging waste.
Reverse engineering against wear and tear
A sweets producer in the Netherlands uses additive manufacturing to replace fast-wearing machine parts more efficiently. The Chocolate Factory in Rotterdam faced the problem that high-speed applications in the chocolate packaging process resulted in high wear on individual parts and was looking for solutions to make part replacement easier and faster. How could 3D printing reduce machine damage, downtime and material costs?
Latécoère is deploying Stratasys FDM additive manufacturing throughout its design and production process.
French aircraft design and manufacturing group Latécoère is deploying Stratasys FDM additive manufacturing throughout its design and production process. Latécoère – which services aerospace giants including Airbus, Bombardier and Dassault – is using its Stratasys Fortus 450mc Production 3D Printer for both rapid prototyping and production tooling. According to Simon Rieu, composite and additive manufacturing manager at Latécoère’s R&D and Innovation Center, the adoption of this technology has been transformational for both design and manufacturing.
“Additive manufacturing has integrated seamlessly into our design and production process, and has seen us enjoy improved lead-times, reduced costs and enhanced operational efficiency,” he says. “As the requirements of the aerospace industry become more demanding, we’re also mindful of the need to maintain our competitive edge, and Stratasys additive manufacturing enables us to meet that objective.”
FDM 3D printing proves better than traditional manufacturing in this latest case study from Moog Aircraft Group (NYSE:MOG.A) and leading Stratsys reseller SYS Systems.
As a solution for spare parts and tooling, fused deposition modeling (FDM) is the 3D printing technology of choice for cutting costs and lead times at factories around the world. In recent news, Ricoh opted to switch out metal for FDM 3D printed plasticsat an assembly factory in Japan. And Spain’s Indaero won a lucrative Airbus contract on the back of its FDM part production.
The Moog Aircraft Group is already a key part of the supply chain for many aerospace/defence companies including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Airbus and Northrop Grumman. In collaboration with SYS Systems, Moog identified FDM 3D printing as the best solution for producing bespoke fixtures, used in the machines that qualify aerospace-grade parts.
3D printing for ships is gaining steam. In the U.S., the navy is holding a number of trials for both offshore and yard-based tooling and also investigating 3D printing spare parts. And wire-arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) has become increasingly used in the Netherlands for producing large, sea-faring and rig components.
Now, Spanish ship builder Navantia has launched a 3D printed parts trial aboard the Monte Udala Suezmax oil tanker.
The unlimited ship
Suezmax tankers are built to the largest ship measurements capable of transiting Egypt’s Suez Canal. While not constrained by length, Suezmax tankers are typically 50 meters wide, and can be up to 68 meters tall.
In 2015, Navantia was commissioned by Ondimar to build four of these supertankers to specifications of 274 m by 48 m (L x W). Looking for ways to innovate the process, Navantia is collaborating with the INNANOMAT (Materials and Nanotechnology Innovation) lab at the University of Cádiz (UCA).
US Nuclear Energy company Westinghouse has announced that it will be installing an additively manufactured fuel component by 2018. In doing so, it hopes to be the first company to do so for a commercial reactor.
The part in question will be a thimble plugging device, and its manufacturing and eventual installation will follow muliple simultaneous research and development into reducing costs for 3D printing obsolete components, fuel structural devices and prototypes.
The R&D projects include both internal research into 3D printed parts and two projects funded by the US Department of Energy.