3D printing as an additive manufacturing process is impacting almost every industry and for the companies that have adopted it into their supply chain, they are undeniably seeing 3D printing in action. We previously covered how the consumer goods industry in Singapore stands to benefit from the manufacturing of smaller or customised parts and products through 3D printing. The applications are increasingly diverse and in this article, we explore how 3D printing can optimise the process of technological experimentation for robotics and automation companies, delivering results at a faster speed.
For starters, complex ideas are now possible to produce and bring to life, which was otherwise a complicated, if not impossible task with traditional manufacturing methods. Starting from a printable file of your robot part design, a 3D printer works by depositing or sintering successive layers of material until the three dimensional (3D) object is completed according to the Computer-Aided Design (CAD) file. As such, there are virtually no restrictions on the complexity of your robot parts.
This also means that you can explore product design customisation to meet the desired robot functionality from your clients. This newfound freedom can ultimately drive new levels of creativity and innovation, with 3D printing fuelling this advancement.
As many robotics and automation companies start to incorporate 3D printing in the creation of robots and part production, there is a growing shift away from traditional manufacturing processes for certain stages. 3D printing makes an innovative addition that gives companies a competitive edge. With 3D printing, you are able to test your ideas quickly through a more streamlined prototyping process. With a trusted 3D printing service provider like Additive3D Asia, you can now view your prototypes in a matter of seven days or less. With robot manufacturing processes supplemented by 3D printing, it essentially offers a different approach to finalise your company’s robot creation when time is a critical factor.
If you require a smaller stock of parts, 3D printing can meet this flexibility in an on-demand or just-in-time (JiT) arrangement and allow you to begin production instantaneously.
Left: Conventional Wittman robot gripper produced in metal VS Right: 3D printed robot gripper produced in PA2200.
Wittman Group is one robotics company that made use of 3D printing to further improve their design. Their conventional robot gripper for ball bearings was manufactured in aluminium, rubber tubes, and multiple connecting elements, making it expensive and time consuming to produce due to material choice and the need for complicated assembly. By 3D printing the robot gripper in a single piece with PA2200 Nylon, the gripper is now lightweight, yet not compromising on durability. Manufacturing costs was reduced by 50% compared to the conventionally manufactured predecessor. In terms of weight reduction, there was an 86% drop in weight to just 220g. Despite its light weight, the gripper is still able to carry the necessary loads, even in demanding, continual usage. After 5 million cycles, the team halted the stress-testing, having reached the designated service life. Over this period, not a single defect or failure occurred.
Beyond new part production, 3D printing can also enable more efficient maintenance and repair of replacement robot parts for automation companies in Singapore. In the event where some robot parts are damaged, it can be time-consuming to order the required parts from the original manufacturer, especially if they are based overseas. To produce the replacement part, opting for 3D printing in such situations will be much faster than pending for the delivery from the manufacturer.
Another situation that poses much inconvenience for many automation companies is when the robot parts required are out of stock on the manufacturer’s end. With Additive3D Asia, all you need to do is simply provide a 2D drawing of the part and we will sketch your 3D design from there. Through our CAD services, our experienced team of 3D designers will utilise 3D modelling to create a 3D file for you. From there, we can then move on to 3D printing your final replacement part.
Through the fabrication of quality robot parts with 3D printing, automation companies can use this additive manufacturing technology as support in their production automation when they most need it. Saving time and cost, you can focus your resources on other areas of production.
Changes in the business landscape are increasingly dynamic, challenging and competitive, but the real question is: When will be your company’s turn to leverage on them? If you want to test out the possibilities, consider outsourcing 3D printing services in Singapore. As 3D printing encompasses different technologies with a wide range of materials, you will want to ensure that your trusted 3D printing service provider delivers the best possible results with the right materials. Besides CAD services, you can also find out if your robot parts are suitable for 3D printing with an estimated ROI calculation at the beginning of your evaluation through our AI-driven Digital Part Analysis service. For further assistance, get started with Additive3D Asia today.