Fixtures and test gauges implemented quickly

Additive manufacturing has found its way from pure prototyping to device construction. Companies use the technology to quickly and easily produce resources and tool components for series production.

Metusan Metallwarenhandelsgesellschaft mbH has recently started using an EVO-lizer FDM machine from EVO-tech GmbH for this purpose.

Additive manufacturing as an alternative

Metusan has also been using an EVO-lizer FDM device from Upper Austrian EVO-tech GmbH for six months now. “I have personally been interested in this topic for a long time. After coordination within the company, we decided to evaluate whether 3D printing could be of benefit to our company,” says Christoph Gruber, head of toolmaking and apprentice training at Metusan, describing the entry into additive manufacturing.

It was clear from the outset that additive manufacturing was only an option in the areas of device construction and the production of operating resources and aids. “The main starting point was a new machine in the area of copper pipe processing. There we needed bending inserts that were soft enough not to damage the copper pipes. We would have had to purchase additional tools to produce the tool inserts using conventional processes.

In addition, calibrating these additional tools would have led to further delays," explains Gruber and continues: "As long as it's just a matter of replacing existing devices in the same way or producing very simple clamping jaws, you can usually use conventional milling more quickly. But as soon as the parts become more complex or a completely new development becomes necessary, you have a clear advantage with additive manufacturing.”

We use additive manufacturing to produce operating resources. For us, this results in clear advantages in terms of lead times.

Christoph Gruber , Head of Toolmaking at Metusan GmbH

Additional benefits are often only recognized later

When starting a project, it is often not yet clear where additive manufacturing can be used. “In the case of Metusan, the focus was on a device for clamping bent copper pipes for cutting. A mold base was needed into which a tube that was bent several times was inserted. A cylinder then presses against a counterpart from above. The pipe held in this way can then be safely moved to a circular saw blade for cutting,” says Markus Kaltenbrunner, Managing Director of EVO-tech GmbH, describing the entry-level project.

“This mount could be deployed much more quickly than usual. The construction time in ABS plastic was just an hour. Even if we need new pipe geometries, we can now produce suitable brackets within a very short time,” says Gruber.

In addition, the EVO-lizer was used to produce test gauges in order to easily control three-dimensional pipe geometries during production. “We would not have been able to produce these test gauges with our existing machines. We would have needed a 5-axis milling machine for this. We were able to access a finished test gauge in just 1.5 hours. The new machine also enables us to quickly produce the necessary resources for quality assurance,” says the department manager happily.

Spare parts from the “printer”

Six months ago, when they bought the EVO-lizer, no one at Metusan expected that spare parts for machines and systems, as well as a lot of other aids, would now be produced with the FDM machine. The range of applications for additive manufacturing is much larger than initially expected. Gruber is visibly pleased about this and concludes: “We are excited to see where the technology will develop and what we will do next with the device. For us, the EVO-lizer is a worthwhile addition to our machine park and in EVO-tech we have found a partner who has provided us with competent and reliable support as we get started with this new technology.”