3D printing techniques and applications are growing so fast that many 3D printer manufacturing and software companies conduct their own educational seminars online. Known as webinars, these online sessions inform the public and the private sector about the printers and how to use them. 3D Systems is no exception here. On Tuesday, December 8, 2015, 3D Systems and Idaho Steel are co-hosting a webinar focusing on how Idaho Steel leveraged 3D Systems’ ProX 500 SLS 3D printer to automate its formerly manual food processing equipment. Yes, everyone. We are talking about 3D printing and Idaho potatoes here. What else would it be? Idaho food = potatoes!
Both companies, 3D Systems and Idaho Steel, are very established, but Idaho Steel is much older. The company has manufactured food processing equipment since 1918, so the story of Idaho Steel is also the story of almost 100 years of manufacturing technology. Idaho Steel has always focused on creating customer-specific manufacturing equipment, and considering this individualized focus, one can imagine that 3D printing is highly compatible with the company’s needs.
One way the company uses 3D Systems’ ProX 500 and DuraForm® ProX nylon material is for customized pistons:
“Idaho Steel employs its ProX 500 to customize forming inserts and pistons for its Nex-Gem Former machine, which its customers use to shape potato products,” 3D Systems states. “The forming inserts and pistons used to be comprised of five parts, machined out of plastic and held together with 25 or more fasteners. Using multiple CNC operations and manual assembly, it took up to 250 hours to complete a set of 16 forming pistons. Idaho Steel now makes the same number of pistons in 90 hours of virtually unattended, continuous run-time on the ProX 500.”
Yes, you read it here. Idaho Steel has cut its piston manufacturing time by almost 33% using the ProX 500, which is why 3D Systems and Idaho Steel are getting together to let you know how this is done from a technical perspective.
It’s not only that 3D printed pistons are made more quickly, freeing up the CNC machine time for other jobs. It’s that the parts are better quality and more durable because they no longer require the “5 parts held together with 25 or more fasteners.” This eliminates production line slow down due to faulty equipment. (You can read more about this Idaho Steel case study here.)
In general, the Idaho Steel case study shows how to boost a company’s ability to produce better on-site parts for its machines more efficiently using 3D printing. You can register for the webinar, “Functional Fabrication: Idaho Steel Supercharges Their Machine Shop with SLS 3D Printing,” here. The webinar takes place at 8 am PST/ 11 am EST. If you can’t make this time for the webinar’s live broadcast, then if you still register you can view a recorded version of it. Too bad you can’t also get some excellent Idaho potato chips with that webinar, too!