Reducing Operational Downtime by Utilizing Ultrafuse® PLA Tough Designed for High-Speed 3D Printing

Developing innovative materials and processes to provide workable solutions to help our customers

In a bustling manufacturing facility requiring uninterrupted production, downtime is the enemy. Every minute counts and any delay in production can have a significant impact. Recently, a facility which specializes in the assembly of complex machinery had a unique challenge arise — the need to install pneumatic regulators on a new line of machines.

The existing mounting brackets and combinations, meaning those typically used for pneumatic regulators, proved both insufficient and unsuitable for the specific requirements of the new equipment. To reduce downtime and avoid delays in production, the team decided to utilize 3D printing as a solution. This single decision opened the door to a broad array of innovative possibilities.

Providing Workable Solutions to Help Customers Stay on Target

The challenge was to design, print, and assemble a custom fixture for the pneumatic regulator, tailored precisely to the unique specifications of the new machines. And if those goals weren’t ambitious enough, it all needed to be accomplished within a single working day of 8 hours.

To tackle this challenge efficiently and expediently, the team opted for Ultrafuse® PLA Tough, a high-performance 3D printing material known for its durability and toughness. PLA Tough not only met the requirements for robustness, but also offered high-speed compatibility along with the ease of printing found in standard PLAs. Furthermore, the material allows for the design freedom necessary to create a fixture that is perfectly matched the new equipment’s required needs.

By taking full advantage of 3D printing’s design flexibility, the team created a precise and highly accurate fixture that would firmly secure the pneumatic regulator in place, ensuring optimal performance and safety. Unlike traditional manufacturing methods, 3D printing allowed them to create intricate geometries and precise dimensions tailored to the specific mounting points on the new machines.

3D model - design of the part
Printed Part
Assembled Part -Pneumatic Regulator
Assembled Part on Machine

The High-Speed Printing Advantage

The real game-changer was Ultrafuse® PLA Tough’s high-speed compatibility and HS printing profile availability. While the standard print profile for a standard PLA took 13 hours and 31 minutes to print, the high-speed profile reduced the total print time to an astonishing 3 hours and 50 minutes. This represented a staggering 250% reduction in printing time compared to conventional material and print profiles.

A Highly Efficient Workflow

With the newly designed fixture, the manufacturing team seamlessly integrated the pneumatic regulators onto the new machines. The entire process, from design to 3D printing and assembly, was completed within a single working day. This level of efficiency meant that there was no downtime for the manufacturing facility and production could continue smoothly.

The innovative solutions offered by Forward AM provided:

  • Minimized downtime – The use of 3D printing and Ultrafuse® PLA Tough allowed the team to swiftly address the installation challenge, preventing costly production delays by waiting for days to receive an expensive tailor-made mounting bracket.
  • A custom-fit, high-quality part – The freedom of design offered by 3D printing ensured that the fixture perfectly met the unique needs of the new equipment.
  • Time and cost savings – The high-speed printing profile of Ultrafuse® PLA Tough significantly reduced the production time, enabling a rapid turnaround and a completed part produced and installed within an 8-hour shift.
  • Increased manufacturing efficiency – The ability to design, print, and assemble within one working day streamlined the workflow and maintained productivity.

In this particular use case, the combination of innovative 3D printing technology along with the durability of Ultrafuse® PLA Tough with high-speed print profiles solved a specific manufacturing challenge. It demonstrated the vast potential of 3D printing in terms of optimizing efficiency and significantly reducing downtime in order to maintain continuous manufacturing operations.

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