Devices and test gauges implemented quickly

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

Recently, Metusan Metallwarenhandelsgesellschaft m.b.H. an EVO-lizer FDM machine from EVO-tech GmbH for this purpose.

Additive manufacturing as an alternative

For six months now, Metusan has also been using an EVO-lizer FDM device from the Upper Austrian EVO-tech GmbH. “I've personally been interested in the topic for a long time. After consultation in-house, we decided to evaluate whether 3D printing could be of benefit to our company, ”says Christoph Gruber, Head of Toolmaking and Apprenticeship Training at Metusan, describing the entry into additive manufacturing.

It was clear from the outset that additive manufacturing would only be possible in the areas of fixture construction and the manufacture of equipment and aids. “The main starting point was a new machine in the field of copper tube processing. There we needed bending inserts that are soft enough not to damage the copper pipes. We would have had to purchase additional tools to manufacture the tool inserts using conventional methods.

In addition, the calibration of these additional tools would have led to further delays, ”explains Gruber and continues:“ As long as it is only a matter of replacing existing devices in the same way or of producing very simple clamping jaws, conventional milling is mostly used more quickly. As soon as the parts increase in complexity or a completely new development becomes necessary, you have a clear advantage with additive manufacturing.

We use additive manufacturing for the production of equipment. This results in clear advantages for us in terms of throughput times.

Christoph Gruber , head of toolmaking Metusan GmbH

Additional benefits are often only recognized later

In the entry-level 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 molded lower shell was needed into which a tube bent several times was inserted. Then a cylinder presses a counterpart from above. The pipe held in this way can then be safely brought up to a circular saw blade for cutting, ”says Markus Kaltenbrunner, Managing Director of EVO-tech GmbH, describing the entry-level project.

“This bracket could be used much faster than usual. The construction time in ABS plastic was only one 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 so that three-dimensional pipe geometries could be easily checked during the production process. “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 manufacture the equipment required for quality assurance, ”says the division manager happily.

Spare parts from the "printer"

At Metusan six months ago, when they bought the EVO-lizer, nobody expected that spare parts for machines and systems, as well as a lot of other aids are now being produced with the FDM machine. The range of applications for additive manufacturing is therefore much wider 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 with the device next. For us, the EVO-lizer is a worthwhile addition to the machine park and in EVO-tech we have found a partner who has supported us competently and reliably when we entered the new technology. "