The Dutch 3D printing service Visual First is helping its client The Chocolate Factory create 3D printed replacement parts. Using Stratasys 3D printing technology, the chocolate producer has increased production efficiency and reduced costs.
With the ability to rapidly prototype and produce components at a whim, an increasing number of companies are turning to additive manufacturing to help repair machine parts that have become faulty.
Using Stratasys’ Fortus 450mc production 3D printer and Nylon 12CF carbon-filled thermoplastic material, the 3D printing service is swapping out metal parts with 3D printed replacements for The Chocolate Factory.
Based in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, The Chocolate Factory operates a network of packaging machines for the variety of chocolate products it produces. At a high daily throughput rate, the company relies on the seamless operation of hook-shaped metal parts to lift the wrapped sugary goods onto a conveyer belt.
However, as parts malfunction or break, they tend to require replacement every three months or so. These replacement components can take over one month to be produced and shipped to The Chocolate Factory.
With the 3D printing expertise of Visual First, the chocolate manufacturer can obtain these new parts faster than ever before.
“It is crucial that the packaging machine is always operational, especially during hectic periods such as Christmas. With Stratasys additive manufacturing, we can produce customized replacement parts on-demand that can perform just as effectively as the metal machine parts. We can 3D print and deliver production parts to The Chocolate Factory in under a week, which is vital to ensuring manufacturing line continuity,” says Carl van de Rijzen, founder of Visual First.
3D printed replacement parts reduce costs and offer enhanced rigidity
Stratasys’ FDM Nylon 12CF composite material is a carbon-filled thermoplastic containing 35 percent chopped carbon-fiber. The material provides the level of strength and tolerance needed to replace metal parts.
These new 3D printed replacement parts are currently in operation at The Chocolate Factory and van de Rijzen is impressed by the material’s rigidity.
The material was able to withstand all test runs and the new parts even helped speed up production. By using professional-grade 3D printing technology to recreate replacement machine parts, companies can also optimize the design of such parts. That’s exactly what Visual First has helped The Chocolate Factory accomplish.
Nadav Sella, Head of Stratasys’ Emerging Solutions Business Unit, says:
“We’re witnessing a growing demand for 3D printed production parts and replacement parts for industrial machinery, especially for packaging machines. These machines require a high-level of customization due to the large variety of products that are packaged. In many cases, the use of additive manufacturing can not only save time and cost during the manufacture of such machinery, it can also make them more efficient by reducing weight, simplifying the design and increasing functionality.”
Another benefit that Stratasys 3D printing offers is cost reduction. In the case of The Chocolate Factory, the Dutch company was able to reduce the overall cost of parts production by 60 percent.
In the future, the chocolate company hopes to employ Visual First to help solve additional challenges, such as creating a prototypical casting mold to test acceptance of its products. Needless to say, it sounds like The Chocolate Factory got a sweet deal by integrating 3D printing into its production process.