Russian 3D imaging company Thor3D, started by ex-employees of professional-grade scanning system producer Artec 3D, has the capability to scan any number of large objects, even ones that aren’t very geometrically rich, using their handheld Thor3D Scanner, thanks in large part to this summer’s Thor3D software version 1.2 and advanced 2D printed marker kit. Even before they took on the challenge of using a handheld scanner to scan objects as big as cars and boats, they were becoming pretty popular – the Thor3D Scanner, while a bit unwieldy, has at least twice the field of view as other handheld 3D scanners, and can digitize a whole automobile in twenty minutes or less, then have it automatically post-processed in about an hour. They recently released their new handheld Drake wireless 3D scanner, but decided to use their tried and true Thor3D when they were called on this fall to help with an unusual and interesting project.
Thor3D’s distribution partner, TEREM, was asked by one of their clients to find a solution to decrease their costs, by reducing expenses on equipment maintenance and repair. The client, a large bakery, operates several professional-grade dough mixers. The screw, which is the spiral part that actually mixes the dough, needed to be replaced every few months, as it wore out quickly. The spare screws had to be shipped all the way from Canada, which was time-consuming and costly. This industry sales trick is one of the oldest in the book – sell the hardware at a low cost, but make the big bucks on your consumables. As an example, the printer in most office buildings is surprisingly affordable, but the toner cartridges for the printer are expensive.
TEREM’s first idea was to hire a graphic designer to draw the shape of the screw in a 3D software program, but the result was not good. Even though it looked exactly like the original screw, the 3D model was not balanced properly, and would have broken the entire mixer if it had been allowed to operate for even a few minutes. So then they called on Thor3D for assistance. TEREM was able to use the Thor3D Scanner to scan the original screw, and once the 3D model was ready, they created a perfectly printed replica using a BigRep ONE 3D printer. The 3D printed screw was 65 cm tall, with a diameter of 28 cm, and the supporting materials were removed with ease using liquid LIMONENE.
The Thor3D scanner features user-friendly hardware and software, a built-in touch screen, and can scan with a 3D resolution of up to 1mm, while keeping the accuracy of 0.2mm. But its real selling point is the large field of view, which helps scanning medium and large objects get done in half the time it would normally take. TEREM’s Director of Business Development, Michael Rihirev, says the Thor3D Scanner was an ideal fit for this particular job, due to its large field of view. The mixer screw was scanned with precise accuracy, and it only took seconds to capture the image.
Once the 3D print of the mixer screw was ready to go, the company making the metal product, Spetslit, doused the plastic 3D printed one with ceramic composite. It was then placed into an oven, where high temperatures of 1000°C made all of the plastic burn away, but left the exact shape of the screw intact in the ceramic. Once it was out of the oven, the ceramic composite mold was filled with stainless steel, in order to create the final product.
Using the Thor3D Scanner ultimately helped the bakery achieve a 60% savings! When the bakery would order one of the old parts from Canada, each one would cost them $1,500. But after TEREM suggested 3D scanning and printing to help them reverse engineer and manufacture the mixer screws in their own city, each part only cost $650! 3D printing and additive manufacturing has been used to help more than one company manufacture spare parts ahead of time, and obviously it’s an extremely cost-effective solution to a problem that pops up time and again.This is just another way that 3D scanning and printing is making a positive impact in a place you may not have thought it would. Discuss in the Thor3D forum at 3DPB.com.[Images: Thor3D, supplied to 3DPrint.com]