Plastic Additive Manufacturing (AM) offers new methods of producing a host of automation line components. Automation parts that were previously extremely expensive to manufacture, can now be made quickly and cheaply using this technology. In fact, designers no longer need to be limited by product geometry. It is indeed, very nearly the case, that anything that you can design, 3T can make.
The opportunities to utilise AM for tooling and automation are expanding rapidly, as more and more “enlightened” companies develop their use of such products, alongside other conventional subtractive methods of manufacture.
3T have already been engaged in the manufacture of change tooling, vacuum actuated EOT, grippers, manifold blocks and various protective housings for automation equipment.
Key factors in the use of the AM process for these products have been:-
- significant weight savings
- reduced cost
- speed of manufacture
- ability to change design at will with no on-cost for tooling
The nature of the AM process also means that complete moving assemblies can be manufactured in one piece and complex internal structures such as pneumatic airways can be constructed with ease.
If, as often happens, a design needs to radically change at the last minute, a new AM component can be manufactured in 24-48 hours, simply by exporting the new CAD data to 3T.
Other related areas which are now embracing the use of AM are items such as jigs and fixtures. The Nylon or Glass Filled Nylon that 3T use is around 80% the strength of conventionally moulded nylon and can easily be machined or drilled. Drill bushes and other inserts can be added to fixtures in exactly the same way as conventional metal parts.
3T manufacture numerous tools, jigs and fixtures for a wide range of applications and our engineers are always available to offer help and advice to enable you to get the best from AM technology.
Go to our case study page and search for Tooling and Automation Case Studies.