The Chocolate Factory, a Netherlands-based chocolate manufacturer, has substituted metal-based replacement parts with 3D printed carbon-filled thermoplastic parts as a solution to production line downtime.
The Chocolate Factory runs a network of packaging machines, with the company’s daily throughput relying on the smooth operation of a simple, yet crucial, hook-shaped metal part that lifts wrapped bars onto a conveyer belt. A problem occurs when the part malfunctions – typically with such regularity that it necessitates replacement three times a month. As each replacement part is handmade, delivery can take over a month.
Moving away from metal replacement parts to using 3D print machinery to provide replacement parts on-demand has reduced lead times to under a week, drastically reducing downtime and ensuring production line continuity for the company.
The FDM Nylon 12CF carbon-filled thermoplastic is sourced from Stratasys, an applied additive technology solutions company, and provided by Dutch 3D service bureau, Visual First.
“We’re witnessing a growing demand for 3D printed production parts and replacement parts for industrial machinery, especially for packaging machines,” said Nadav Sella, Head of Stratasys’ Emerging Solutions Business Unit. “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.”www.stratasys.com