Stephanie Benoit June 23, 2017

You might have heard about the Materialise 3DP Academy before – in fact you might even have attended one! Our latest 3DP Academy, hosted at the Materialise headquarters in Leuven, was no ordinary edition – we focused on the increasingly relevant topic of 3D-printed production line components.

Take a look at our video of the day to see what you can expect when you attend a 3DP Academy.

Why Use 3D Printing in Production Lines?

The day started off with a welcome session, followed by a series of workshops all dealing with how 3D Printing can make a difference for production lines. Production lines tend to be very specific – they manufacture specific parts and products, and therefore need specialized material. These components themselves are expensive to make, and therefore replace – and that’s where 3D Printing steps in. Small series are very cost-effective to produce with Additive Manufacturing, and best of all, the technology allows for extremely complex designs which can be engineered for optimal efficiency.

ABB's robot arm with a gripper 3D-printed by Materialise
ABB's robot arm playing Operation

Playing Operation with ABB’s Robotic Arm

Gripper 3D printed by Materialise

During the day, our guests saw first-hand how 3D Printing had the capacity to make production components more efficient and cost-effective. As part of their workshop, ABB brought in one of their own robotic arms which they use for demonstrations at trade shows. Sporting its very own gripper 3D-printed by us, the robotic arm showed off the flexibility of its gripper fingers which it used to play the classic game of Operation! The robot used a combination of gripping and suction to place each body part where it needed to go on the board.

ABB’s Martin van der Have explained, “Across industries we see common challenges; increasing productivity and quality, keeping pace with competitors and adding flexibility to meet rapidly changing consumer preference. We see 3D Printing as a key technology that can address these challenges.”

How Does the Automotive Sector Use 3D Printing for Production?

ABB’s presentation was followed by two more cases we worked on. An automotive case by Materialise Manufacturing showed how one of our clients swapped their conventionally manufactured gluing jig for a 3D-printed one which weighs 64% less and combines all previous components in one. In addition, it costs less than the original and is more durable – a significant factor in a fast-paced, tough work environment.

Afterwards, our daughter company RapidFit demonstrated how they perform quality tests on automotive parts with a cubing system held in place by 3D-printed fixtures. These fixtures are customizable, reusable and most importantly of all, accurate and repeatable.

The day ended with a tour around our own production facility, which highlighted how Materialise is already using 3D-printed components on our production lines.

Guests attend one of the workshops

Learn about 5 production challenges 3D Printing can solve, and get in touch to discover how your own production could benefit!