One of our customer’s, who acquired a CREATOR metal 3D printer just four months ago, has been sharing the benefits of installing the system in-house at its facilities in Germany. At this point, the company has requested anonymity, which we are glad to respect, but we are grateful for the company’s generosity in sharing the nature of the application and the advantages that the CREATOR has already demonstrated in saving the organisation both time and money.

The customer is a privately-owned German company that specializes in pipe tools. Specifically, the company develops and manufactures specialty tools for on-site applications, for chamfering pipes and cutting pipes. The company serves a wide range of industrial clients, some of whom request customized pipe dimensions, for which there are no standard tools or parts available, notably the metal clamping jaws, which are placed inside the pipe to ensure it is securely fixed to the machine either on the inside or the outside.

These clamping jaw for custom pipe sizes printed by our metal 3D printer required a custom design, the production of which was outsourced and added considerable time to the delivery schedule as well as exorbitant costs for clients. Indeed, this singular part could delay delivery by up to four months, which became an unacceptable constraint.

Watch the whole story which highlights the benefits of the CREATOR metal 3D printer and the production workflow:

Metal 3D printer saves time and expenses

Looking for a solution to this problem, the company considered the benefits of 3D metal printing. The CREATOR from Coherent | OR Laser was an optimal solution due to how accessible the system is in a variety of ways. The size of the CREATOR meant that it could be accommodated easily within the production floor facilities. The capabilities of the CREATOR, along with its superior performance and reliability also met the company’s demanding requirements for this mechanical engineering application, while the capital expenditure and running costs of the system offered an attractive return on investment.

Today, latest-generation lasers can be used with a powder nozzle for direct metal deposition, yielding considerable benefits: the metal alloy is fed in the form of a dry powder via the nozzle coaxially to the laser and melted onto the inside of the concave steel bearing shells. The laser permits accurate partial attachment of the alloy. It is only necessary to apply the expensive alloy to about 20% of the surface using this technique, compared to 100% with the traditional casting method. Use of a laser also saves time and energy, since only a small amount of metal needs to be melted in each case.

The new generation of additive manufacturing is especially well-suited for bearings that are in constant use, have a large diameter, and are subjected to large bearing forces and high rotational speeds. It can also be used to inexpensively repair defective bearing shells and restore them to a like-new condition.

The ability to quickly change the alloy and apply coatings of nearly any kind of metal opens up incredible prospects for developing new products. AM enables completely new production processes that are able to flexibly accommodate customer wishes in a minimum of time.

Our customer is thrilled: “Together with the CREATOR metal 3D printer we are now in the possibility to print the missing part overnight so that we can ship the product very fast.”

The company uses the CREATOR for the production of customized metal clamping jaws, which, once designed efficiently in the APP SUITE. Material consumption per part is 100g, while the build time is one and a half hours, and, according to the company, the CREATOR is often left running overnight and once built the clamping jaw parts can be taken off the machine, for post processing operations. This includes basic sand blasting operations, followed by support removal, which can be achieved very quickly in under a minute.

The company estimates that the cost of each part is €40 — a considerable saving over the costs of outsourcing. However, the most significant benefit of the in-house CREATOR system is that it enables the company to ship its pipe products extremely quickly — within days compared to months — to customers.