The Swedish company Albin Components AB in Kristinehamn has achieved highly remarkable business benefits by introducing a Markforged 3D printer from PLM Group in its manufacturing of specific parts.
The company is a sub-supplier which is developing and manufacturing transmission equipment such as shaved and grinding gears as well as splines for use in primarily heavy trucks and equipment for the automotive and the construction industries. Albin Components has chosen the Markforged printer because of its special ability to print parts in different robust materials. The company wanted to replace materials such as steel with for example carbon fiber.
Reduced lead times and cost savings
“With the introduction of the 3D printer we have reduced the lead times for the production of measurement fixtures from four-six weeks to one-two days. If the production needs a new fixture, we can print it overnight, so it is ready for use in our manufacturing department next morning,” explains Manager for Production Engineering at Albin Components, Zlatan Okanovic, He adds: “In addition, we have been able to reduce the monthly working hours for the toolmakers significantly, so they are now brought down to 80 hours. Previously, we were overloaded with work so we had to outsource parts of the toolmaking to external suppliers. Now we are easily able to do all these tasks ourselves. All in all, this saves us 4.000-5.000 EUR first month.”
He also points out that it has become possible very quickly to print parts used for the development of measurement programs in the company’s measuring machines. This means that the stop time in the production has been significantly reduced.
The company furthermore uses the printer internally to produce parts used to give the management and marketing department a clear idea of how new parts will look in reality.
For a number of years, the company has used SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD software from PLM Group in the design of production equipment such as fixtures for measuring equipment and clamping tasks. In addition, software is used for simulation of assembly processes and production of working and machine instructions.
It just took a day to get started using the 3D printer and it works really well with SOLIDWORKS, explains Zlatan Okanovic: “It’s very easy to use. We just put our designs in the form of STL files into the a cloud software and download them from the cloud to the printer. Then we are ready to print the parts. 3D printing has today become an equally natural tool for us to use as 3D CAD and in the future we will further integrate it into our production.”
As a bit funny example of how 3D print also has been contributing to improving existing parts, Zlatan Okanovic points to the production of a certain round measurement fixture. The round shape of the fixture was chosen because it was the only way to do it in the traditional way. “We wanted to 3D print the part instead, but it was too big for the printer. After some time thinking about the solution, one of our engineers suggested that we could change the shape of the part. With 3D print the requirement that it should be round no longer existed, so now it got another form and could be printed quickly,” he explains.
Close 3D partnership
Zlatan Okanovic praises the cooperation with PLM Group and says: “We have had a long and close cooperation since we invested in SOLIDWORKS. As far as possible we want to have one supplier of this type of engineering tools and we look forward to continue the good relationship with PLM Group as our supplier of 3D printing solutions.”