How 3D Printing Benefits Your Company

March 26, 2015 | American Manufacturing

Technology has changed the manufacturing industry in amazing ways. Tasks that would once take a team of experienced metalworkers hours to complete, such as fusing two pieces of metal together, now take mere moments.

The addition of computer modeling software was a major change for the manufacturing industry. With this technology, creating blueprints and setting up instructions for wire bending robots became a simple task.

Now, Marlin Steel is adding yet more advanced manufacturing technology in the form of 3D printing capabilities. With this new method of production available, Marlin Steel can expand its methods of manufacturing and have even greater flexibility in the design of custom wire baskets.

What are the specific ways in which 3D printing can improve your custom baskets so that your own processes are made more efficient? Here are a few examples:

Custom Inserts that Can Be Replaced

One of the big challenges in creating a custom wire form for holding specific parts is making the custom shapes for the interior part of the basket. When using metal wire, this often involves making complicated, multi-part bends in the metal, as well as having to account for the extra thickness that would be added by using a PVC coating for delicate, no-scratch parts.

These interior inserts are often a permanent part of the basket. While the solid core of metal and soft PVC coat make these interior components incredibly durable and useful for ultrasonic parts washing, what happens when you have a new product line that won’t fit the old insert?

With inserts that are a permanent part of the basket, you’ll need an entirely new basket to meet your needs. With a 3D printed insert made separate from the basket that can be removed, you simply have to get a new insert and change it out.

Doing this saves you money on materials for baskets, and allow you to use one set of baskets for multiple kinds of parts.

Another benefit is that it is much easier to control the dimensions of the custom insert than it is to get exacting control over the thickness of a PVC coat over a wire form.

When applying a dip coat of PVC material, the amount of material that is left on the basket somewhat random, with thicker wire forms holding more coating material more easily. Sometimes, these coatings can be upwards of half an inch thick, which can be problematic for holding parts precisely.

A 3D printed form, on the other hand, is made with incredible precision, with a margin of error for thickness that is only 60 microns (0.0023”), making it so that the insert can fit your parts like a glove. A better fit for parts means less risk of damage to parts during harsh treatment processes and faster insertion and removal, shaving time off of production.

Rapid Prototyping Without the Usual Tooling Costs

3D printing has many benefits for your businessNormally, when making a wire basket, especially one that uses wires of different thicknesses and using complicated bends, there are certain minimum costs for tooling, the process of getting a set of wire bending robots and other machinery set up for production. This can, depending on the complexity of your custom basket design, involve adding or modifying parts of the robot(s) being used to better fit your basket’s production process.

3D printing, on the other hand, rarely needs much in the way of tooling other than changing the spool of material to the desired type for your application. 3D printers assemble parts layer by layer from a reserve of material, almost like printing a stack of pages, but the “ink” on each page is another layer of the object being printed.

No matter how complicated a part is, the printing head can recreate it layer by layer until it is complete without special tooling.

Not only does the lack of tooling save you money on your basket, it saves you time. When you order a basket, it’s usually because you have an immediate need for the basket, and the sooner you can get it, the sooner your own production can begin. Because there’s no need for tooling, production of components can begin without delay, speeding up production and getting your company the baskets and parts it needs faster.

Get greater flexibility in your custom baskets and get them faster with 3D printing from Marlin Steel today!

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