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Improving special machinery through 3D printing: ID Print 3D

CASE STUDY
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ID Print 3D is an additive manufacturing service provider with a focus on special machinery based in France, in the Bourgogne region. Besides the fabrication of 3D parts for their customers, they offer consultancy and reverse-engineering services.

A quick response time and a deep knowledge in custom industrial machinery development are two of the company’s success key drivers.

ID Print 3D is equipped with a Prodways ProMaker P4000X, a high-productivity SLS® 3D printer used on a daily basis to produce visual and functional prototypes, as well as, most of all, tools and final parts for short, medium and large series.

Depending on customer needs, ID Print 3D can manufacture parts in Nylon 11, 12 (reinforced with glass beads, in case higher stiffness is required), and TPU, an elastomer with rubber-like properties, which is ideal to manufacture flexible elements.

We asked them to illustrate one of the most interesting applications they have worked on so far.
Let’s read more about it!


Robot gripper: enhanced specs thanks to additive manufacturing 

The need for short runs of highly customized elements is quite standard in robotics and automation, making 3D printing the best solution to achieve targets in a short time-span and without huge investments in molds or CNC machining.

ID Print 3D detailed some of the benefits brought by Prodways’ AM systems in the manufacturing of Robot Grippers for a special machine dedicated to pastry:

  1. A radically new optimized design: Allows to print geometries that are sometimes difficult (or impossible) to manufacture with machining or injection molding processes. And this gripper is the perfect example, with its complex air-flow network and base+fingers structures.
  2. A single part instead of three: 3D printing the gripper greatly simplified the production process: previously 3 different parts had to be manufactured and assembled, now it’s a one-piece element.
  3. Faster iterations: When it comes to upgrade a product or to create a new one, the possibility to print various different versions of the same prototype leads to an incredible acceleration in product development. This happened of course also for this gripper.
  4. Time saving: A set of ten grippers is fully produced in 48 hours on the Prodways ProMaker P4000 3D printer, whereas it takes 3 to 4 weeks with machining processes and 2 months with injection molding.
  5. Cost reduction: 3D printing is less expensive for small and medium production runs. Manufacturing 30 grippers and 50 fingers with this technology costs a fraction of standard injection molding, not to mention the time spared, as mentioned above.
  6. Improved customer experience, process safety, and production rates:
    • After many hours of operation, standard clamps can break if too rigid. This is why ID Print 3D chose to print the clamp fingers with its TPU 70-A flexible material, tweaking the print parameters to push the “shore A” value from 72 to 80. A value that allows a perfect grip and at the same time prevents the part from breaking.
    • The lattice structure designed by ID Print 3D reduces the risk of finger deformation due to the airflow, and therefore the risk of damaging the film that transports puff pastry.
    • The 3D printed parts can be dyed in blue in the mass so that, in case of breakage, they can be immediately identified with image analysis tools and promptly removed.
TPU 70-A Clamps with lattice structureComplete gripper assembly
(TPU clamps + Nylon11 body)
Complete gripper assembly (detail)

 

Why did you choose Prodways?

The DNA of ID Print 3D is to provide efficient, innovative custom solutions to all of our professional and industrial customers.
After having assessed different 3D printer manufacturers and models, we chose Prodways and the ProMaker P4000 X printer, for the following reasons:

  • The productivity of the P4000X (and now the P4500X): a combination of fast scanning hardware and quick swap system for build and feed platforms, that allows to resume the production faster as soon as the previous one is completed.
  • The possibility to freely customize the mechanical properties of each part, through an access to 100% of the manufacturing parameters, avoiding the purchase of expensive licenses.
  • The ability to address all types of industrial projects thanks to the large choice of materials available in the Prodways catalog, but also the possibility to use third-party materials in case of need.
  • The delivery of large parts or short to long production runs thanks to the 72-liter building platform size.

Prodways’ 3D printing technology has allowed not only ID Print 3D but also its customers to significantly improve their return on investment (ROI), as well as their innovation capacity, and to shorten their respective time to market.