3D printing for mechanical engineering

As a machine and plant manufacturer, you face ever-growing demands for increased productivity and flexibility that must be met in order to remain competitive.

The freedom of design and engineering which is typical of 3D printing makes new and improved functions possible, the freedom of geometry makes complex structures feasible, and functional metal prototypes are quickly available without expensive tooling.

The specific benefits that additive manufacturing can contribute to mechanical engineering can be seen in the following real-life examples:

Mechanical engineering

Mover as part of a magnetic transport system


In manufacturing, maximum productivity is the top priority. Time is an important factor here. The rule is: the faster, the better, especially when it comes to transport times. This is also the case in the plants of Robert Bosch GmbH.

In the production of control units, the high-tech company relied on an automated production line with a magnetic transport system to move components from one processing station to the next. To achieve higher output in this system through faster cycle times, Bosch aimed to speed up the travel of the workpiece mover, 20 to 40 of which travel on a production line. To achieve this, the weight of the mover, which glides along the transport paths with the workpieces, had to be reduced by 30 %.

The design experts at FIT rethought the mover, transforming it from a multi-part, milled version into a one-piece lightweight version that can be manufactured additively. Read more about this soon in our comprehensive Inspiration Book!

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Mover 2

Mover 3

Mover 4

Garniture tongue for cigarette production


The following use case from cigarette production shows that even small components can be essential for the reliable running of manufacturing processes.

In the production of filter cigarettes, the so-called "infeed finger" is an essential factor for productivity, because it transports and forms the so-called filter rope into a round and endless strand. If problems occur in this process, the machine comes to a standstill.

Hauni therefore developed infeed fingers with highly complex internal structures. These structures, which can only be manufactured additively, ensure error-free strand formation and thus avoid machine downtimes. For manufacturing, Hauni counts on FIT's reliable production capabilities.

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Swivel bearing for track construction


A track network is exposed to many forces caused by train traffic and resulting in the need to a regular maintenance. This purpose is fulfilled by tamping machines from Plasser & Theurer in Linz. The tamping machine that levels, lifts, straightens, and tamps the track bed is as individual as the track network.

As part of a newly developed tamping unit, large castings were urgently needed. The test stand was already booked and time pressure was high. So where to get affordable castings in small quantities quickly? Due to high tooling costs and long delivery times, it's actually impossible. The good news is: nothing is impossible, because additive manufacturing offers a solution for this as well.  Within just a few weeks, FIT welded up five assembly- and test-ready prototypes of swivel bearings and pickle arms. Total weight: 500 kg. The technology of choice was WAAM, a 5-axis arc welding process that is based on wire material. The delivery was made in time for the test. Plasser & Theurer was particularly satisfied with the quality of the components supplied, which gave the test of the whole machine a successful pass.

Would you like to know in more detail how FIT solved this problem? We look forward to hearing from you!

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