AMS Spring 2023

RAG & Gavco Partnership Shows Potential for 3D Printing Bridge to Injection Molding

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Broken Arrow, Oklahoma-headquartered companies Rapid Application Group (RAG), and Gavco Plastics have announced a partnership that will combine their complementary expertise in manufacturing.

RAG, founded in 2017 by a group of seasoned military and additive manufacturing specialists, has grown quickly in offering customized solutions of “meticulous quality” for its customers. Gavco Plastics, founded in 1976, is a family-owned company founded on conventional technology like injection molding. Together, the two firms plan to combine AM with injection molding to benefit and protect supply chains in a variety of industrial applications to include aerospace and automotive.

Direct metal laser sintering by RAG (Image: RAG)

In collaborating, both RAG and Gavco are on a mission not only to make certain that production is not disrupted for customers but also allow them to enjoy the benefits of 3D printing, as well as traditional methods. Parts can be produced faster, more affordably, and in many cases may offer better quality and performance. In close proximity to each other, the manufacturing partners plan to create a project group to work together in prototyping, printing, and analyzing iterations of parts. Afterward, they plan to enter into low rate initial production (LRIP) and then move on to mass production via injection molding.

“2020 has demonstrated that additive manufacturing is suitable for production-grade parts, at a low volume,” said Jason Dickman, COO, Rapid Application Group. “It can fill the need for parts while mold tooling is being created, giving customers the time and flexibility to figure out just how many parts will be needed.”

Not only have supply chains been extremely vulnerable, due to greater exposure in news and social media many individuals and businesses have continued to come together to try and close extremely concerning gaps in production; for instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries were in need of protective gear like masks and face shields, as well as important medical devices like ventilators for patients. The development and manufacturing of swabs have become central for some companies who were otherwise engaged in other innovations previously and in some cases completely shifted their focus to fill a critical need in the medical realm.

FDM 3D printing by RAG (Image: RAG)

As RAG and Gavco continue forward, their hope is to help customers recover their equilibrium while still adjusting to recent changes in the national and worldwide “norm” and economy. Outlined in their partnership are the following plans for aerospace customers:

  • Prototyping and re-working designs for new parts, experimenting with materials that will then be used n mass production (thus saving time in production overall)
  • Decreasing time and expense with the use of AM processes with LRIP
  • Producing short runs without tooling
  • Using injection molding for mass production to meet demands in supply chain

“Gavco Plastics, like RAG, is part of the Oklahoma State effort to become one of the US’ top 10 states in GDP. This kind of partnership will help make the state one of the most responsive hubs for manufacturing OEMs,” said Terry Hill, CEO, Rapid Application Group.

[Source / Images: finanzen.net]

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