What was once just a vision of the future has become reality in many industries: using 3D printing for series production. Aventics is now taking advantage of additive manufacturing in short runs.
A company from the beauty industry was looking for a unique solution for an application in compression therapy. “Our focus wasn’t on large batch sizes, but we wanted to bring our product ideas to market quickly. Because of the customer’s specific requirements, a standard product was simply out of the question,” said Patrick Inhetveen, Senior Engineer R&D Mechanics Life Sciences.
This is where 3D printing comes into play.
Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, refers to a process that uses digital 3D design data to build parts by layering materials, enabling complex geometries and function integration in the tightest of spaces. For example, instead of milling a workpiece from a solid block, additive manufacturing builds the component layer for layer using metal or plastic powder. This eliminates high investment costs for tools that make the implementation of innovative ideas difficult, especially in small series. At the same time, 3D printing enables a design-controlled production process. When developing an innovative new product, its design is determined by creative thinking instead of standard production process requirements.
“We want to solve our customers’ problems, and that also means quickly responding to their wishes,” said Inhetveen. “With additive manufacturing, we are able to do just that.” The method also lowers costs for prototype finishing, there are virtually no make-ready times at all, and parts can even be made of other materials than would be possible with conventional means of production.
“For customers that have specific requirements and need tailored solutions, it helps to be able to hold the freshly designed product in your hands as quickly as possible,” he said. Thanks to its freedom in design, additive manufacturing also enables the use of bionic geometries. In the pneumatics industry in particular, where the shape of air channels is key for efficiency, there is a big difference between channels produced with a streamlined print or with classic methods. “Some shapes simply cannot be produced with a milling machine, and the possibilities of functional integration are virtually unlimited,” he said.
At the 2018 Hannover Messe, Aventics will present customer-specific solutions and its use of additive manufacturing in hall 23 at booth C39. The international industrial fair will take place from April 23 to 27, 2018, in Hanover under the banner “Integrated Industry—Connect & Collaborate.”