Confectionery is the art of making confections. Whether this is performed by hand or machine, the principle is the same. A high-quality product is always the desired outcome and automated production lines spit out a consistent quality. It’s a case of setting up the machine, pressing go and letting the batch run. We recently worked with a confectioner to reduce weight across the production line and reduce costs per part.
3D printing custom parts
Our client wanted to reduce weight across the production line and see if 3D printing (additive manufacturing) could be a viable solution for fabricating new parts for their machines. We met with the client and walked their production line to see their process. It was agreed that some elements of the production line were unsuitable for 3D printing, but others – identified by our client beforehand – were, like the packaging lines and production line parts.
It was agreed we would produce new design iterations of a part used in the packaging process. The original cast part weighed in at a hefty 340g, enough to crush your foot if dropped at hip height. By replacing the cast part with a 3D printed one, less maintenance would be required and there would be a reduced contamination risk from eliminating the need for oil and grease. Metal parts need lubrication, composite parts do not.
The printer and materials
We produced a series of part iterations (end use) for our client to inspect, test and assess. These were all design iterations of a single cast part. Here’s the iterations next to the original:
We 3D printed the new parts using the Markforged Mark 2 3D printer. The Markforged Mark Two 3D printer uses a Continuous Filament Fabrication (CFF) print head alongside a Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) print head to 3D print parts from nylon with continuous strands of composite reinforcement. The FFF print head is dedicated to printing nylon or Onyx while the CFF print head is dedicated to printing composite.
In this case, we used Kevlar and Onyx filaments. With these we produced exceptionally strong, durable parts. Onyx is part nylon, part chopped carbon fibre so offers excellent abrasion resistance and strength by itself. Kevlar has the best abrasion resistance and the best impact resistance of all Markforged materials, making it perfect for use in mechanical or industrial applications. The Mark Two can also print Nylon, Carbon Fibre and Fibreglass.
The client supplied us with CAD files which we then modified, sliced and produced test parts from. We produced a number of parts which worked perfectly, offering the same performance as the cast part only with a HUGE weight saving. Where the cast part weighed 340g, the 3D printed part weighed in at 128g – yet is just as strong if not stronger.
Overall a 62% weight saving was achieved. Further benefits included a £240 cost saving per set of parts. Because composites parts have no serviceable elements, they offer reduced maintenance and don’t need oiling or greasing to work. Our client was so impressed they invested in a Mark Two 3D printer, after which they bought a second and have plans to add a third. It only takes twenty sets of parts for them to get a ROI from each machine they add.
If you enjoyed this case study, you can find more like it at our case studies page. Our previous Markforged case study covered bmi CAD Services, who 3D print their own custom bar pullers to automate part production on their CNC lathes. Just another application where 3D printing is incredibly useful.