Applications for high-volume manufacturing with the Production System

Milwaukee Tool
Spauger bit

The spauger bit features complex geometry requiring more than 20 manufacturing steps when using traditional methods. Many of these operations-including milling, turning, and grinding-require dedicated setups. The high number of individual operations required to achieve the complex geometry and their associated costs represent major challenges for manufacturers. In a single run, the Production System produces more than 600 spauger bits which can then be post-processed to achieve desired hardness and surface finish. The result is a reduction in manufacturing complexity-reducing the number of independent operations required from about twenty to four.

Ultra Machining Company
Surgical tool assembly

Evaluated on their ergonomic comfort as much as their functionality and performance, surgical tools are precision-engineered to optimal geometries. Traditionally, this involves several machining and finishing operations which can inhibit iteration and customization. The Production System produces near-net-shape parts with complex features, such as knurling, printed simultaneously with the core geometry-reducing production time and material costs. The design flexibility inherent to Single Pass Jetting introduces new capabilities to medical device manufacturing and makes it easy to accommodate surgeon-specific customized tools.

BMW
Water wheel

Typically manufactured as an assembly of plastic components, water wheels in BMW production vehicles are, as most components, designed for manufacturability and cost. Utilizing DMLS methods, the company was able to re-engineer this part for maximum performance as a single metal component; however, they were only able to introduce this new design to their racing vehicles as the parts are too expensive and slow to manufacture at scale. With the Production System, BMW will be able to manufacture complex parts like the water wheel at a competitive cost (⁓$5.56/part) bringing high-performance parts from the racetrack to the road.

Audi
Custom fixture

A custom fixture from Audi demonstrates the Production System’s ability to print-in-place conformal cooling channels that would not otherwise be manufacturable as a single part. The cooling channels, spanning the base and the wall, would typically require the part to be manufactured in pieces and then welded back together. The process required to manufacture a single fixture is not scalable-in terms of cost or time-as production volume increases. With the Production System, the fixture is printed as a single part with cooling channels intact.

Process capability
Custom gears

The Production System enables mass customization at mass production efficiency by eliminating bottlenecks and costs associated with per-unit customization. The flexibility of the print technology allows for an entire build volume of custom parts to be rendered at once. For example, a variety of gears-varying in size, number of teeth, and tooth profiles-can be printed in one batch without any specialized fixturing, tooling or dedicated molds. Thus enabling high-mix runs of single-unit or low-volume parts that may otherwise not warrant associated setup costs. Custom features like serial numbers can also be easily produced as they are printed directly into the part, eliminating the need for application during post-processing.

Process capability
Print-in-place hinge

A typical hinge design consists of two leaves bound by a central pin. As the size of the hinge gets smaller, assembly becomes increasingly challenging-requiring special tools and equipment for precision manufacturing. Assembling mini hinges in high volume has a significant impact on lead time and dedicated labor required. The Production System enables print-in-place hinges with the pin printed directly into the knuckle of the mating leaf-eliminating the need for post-assembly and reducing the risk of disassembly after repeated use. With speeds up to 12,000 cm³/hr, the Production System can print over 20,000 pre-assembled 12 x 5 x 6 mm hinges in a single four-hour build.