Additive Manufacturing 3D printers replace entire CNC machining centres

Source: Markforged

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Walter Reckmeyer Werkzeug und Maschinenbau from the German town of Augustdorf in the Lippe district is a toolmaker for injection moulded parts for the automotive industry. Industrial 3D printing offers the company new flexibility and ensures competitiveness against competition from the Far East.

Plastic components with strengths similar to aluminium.
Plastic components with strengths similar to aluminium.
(Source: Mark3D)

As a toolmaker for injection moulded parts for the automotive industry, Walter Reckmeyer Werkzeug und Maschinenbau used to rely on CNC milling of aluminium components. A high variety of variants, small quantities as well as favourable competition from the Far East have repeatedly presented the company with challenges. Especially small quantities with batch sizes 1-2 for cable overmoulding were very cost-intensive.

Initial start-up attempts with 3D printing and suppliers from the amateur sector failed due to the quality, accuracy and mechanical properties of the components. Mechanically resilient components from the 3D printer Jan Reckmeyer, 2nd generation managing director of the company, got to know the Markforged 3D printers at an in-house exhibition and was impressed by the strengths. He immediately recognised the added value for his company.

I save one CNC machining centre per 3D printer. We are very satisfied with the reliability and process safety as well as the quality of the parts.

Jan Reckmeyer

Finally, he was able to find an alternative for the expensive aluminium parts. Plastic components with strengths like aluminium could be produced with a simple system. Components that are also lighter and significantly cheaper to produce. Two industrial Markforged 3D printers were purchased. A Markforged Onyx One and a Mark Two for heavy-duty components. The Mark Two 3D printer also has the option of reinforcing the components with a continuous fibre made of carbon, Kevlar or glass fibre. After a very short time, the 3D printers could already be operated perfectly and used as a real manufacturing technology.

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The results in figures also speak for themselves: costs as well as time have been reduced by a factor of 10. At the same time, there is full customer approval. A change in thinking has taken place. The new requirements are now already designed for additive manufacturing. For example, the 0-error principle Poka-Yoke is expected by customers and thus directly integrated. “We save one CNC machining centre including operator per 3D printer. Some of the new parts can no longer be produced conventionally from aluminium. The geometries are too complicated. The effort would be many times greater,” explains Jan Reckmeyer.

In the future, too, additive manufacturing will continue to reliably deliver mechanical, resilient components for the automotive industry — as a supplement to conventional manufacturing.

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