Metal 3D printing is truly starting to pick up more momentum around the world — and we’re seeing a lot of it in Europe in particular lately. Jung & Co. Gerätebau GmbH, a German company specializing in stainless steel components, relies on additive manufacturing to keep spare parts for their customers more readily available. If a plant is shut down due to a lack of spare parts, it can lose money extremely quickly – an hour of lost production can cost anywhere from €4,000 up to €30,000, as Packaging Europe notes. But 3D metal printing can ensure that won’t happen.
Jung & Co. offers production planning and quality assurance in both order and sub-assembly production, using stainless steel, aluminum, and titanium materials. It works with many different industries, including pharmaceuticals, chemical engineering, fossil fuel extraction, and food and beverage. One of the items they produce is stainless steel spare parts for beverage filling plants. Every day, filling plants need to supply multiple sizes of bottles or cans, fill them, seal them, and transfer them to post-processing stations. This industry thrives on speed: production rates of 40,000-80,000 bottles or cans an hour are not unheard of. So if a plant is shut down for any reason, and takes days to find the problem, request a spare part, have it shipped, and then install it, profitability goes way down.
After adding additive manufacturing to the production floor in 2015, Jung & Co. thought about what they could do to increase its use to help their customers, and came up with the idea of spare parts on demand. The concept caught on quickly with their customers. It helped that the Managing Director of Jung & Co., Thomas Lehmann, was involved with the process known as LaserCUSING (laser melting of stainless steel), in collaboration with German technology pioneer Concept Laser, since early in its inception. This innovative process was introduced in 2001, and its creator, Concept Laser’s founder Frank Herzog, was nominated for the Deutscher Zukunftspreis (German Future Prize) last year for his outstanding service in initiative for 3D printing in metal. LaserCUSING is available through Concept Laser’s Mlab series of printers; Jung & Co. has an M2 cusing Multilaser machine with 2 x 400 W laser sources on its production floor.
“Through additive manufacturing – frequently known as 3D printing – in stainless steel, titanium, aluminium and steel, we are now offering a professional production process for applications where conventional methods of production for these materials reach their limits. Innovative laser sintering enables the complex production of high-precision contours, geometries and any kind of free-form surface,” the company explains in describing their offerings.
An additive solution, coupled with a CAD design, meant that parts, or even entire assemblies, could be created as a one-shot design for Jung & Co.’s customers. For example, if a filling company needs a new can filler valve, the components can be quickly manufactured using CAD data, and fitted on the premises, to reduce downtime and save money. To manufacture this valve using conventional machining methods, the assembly would be made up of seven stainless steel components, which need to have seals added. The parts had to be milled or turned with precision CNC machining, then manually fitted. Many were put right into storage, so the company had back-ups. But a redesign of this valve meant that spares did not need to be purchased early and kept in storage, ultimately tying up less of the customer’s capital.
Lehmann explained, “The can filler valve was redesigned so that it could be manufactured in one operation on an M2 cusing Multilaser machine. This means there is no longer any need for the seals and interfaces that are otherwise an inevitable consequence of the joining process. The fact that no assembly work is required is not only cheaper, but also saves time for our customers. Manufacturing of the part by conventional means takes around 8-10 weeks including the procurement of the required precision cast part, whereas the Additive Manufacturing takes around one week. In principle, this means we can manufacture spare parts on demand and then deliver them on time when the demand suddenly arises. The benefits that arise with such a precision part are extremely interesting for both us as the manufacturer and for our customers if the desire is to keep overhaul times or machine downtimes as short as possible.”
The possibilities are nearly endless for additive manufacturing being used to overhaul their customers’ custom solutions. It’s now possible to incorporate lightweight design approaches (the 3D printed can filler valve is 35% lighter) and functional integrations, like temperature control and sensor technology. Jung & Co. is also taking some hybrid approaches to manufacturing parts: the more geometrically simple areas of a part can still be machined in the conventional way, while the complex areas can be 3D printed.
Lehmann says, “The demand for 3D printed metal components is expected to rise steadily and stable. I am thrilled that many of our customers are recognizing the benefits of additive parts. But I am just as delighted that we in house are able to familiarize our own employees and in particular the apprentices with the new technology. As a medium-sized enterprise, gaining more expertise is always a vital argument when talking to customers.”
Jung & Co. plans to purchase a mobile laser scanner in the next year, which will let the company adopt a whole new approach in rapidly supplying spare parts to its customers. Discuss in the Jung & Co forum at 3DPB.com.[Source: Packaging Europe]