Keeping Automated Packaging Lines Moving with 3D Printed Parts

Automated packaging lines run continuously with only planned downtime – or so they should. Occasionally, equipment breaks down and needs fixing, but engineers can’t always source parts at short notice.

For Trivium, a specialist in sustainable and recyclable metal packaging, access to spare parts is critical. Their automated packaging lines provide the output required to meet order capacity. While there is a downtime tolerance, extended downtime can impact revenue and break trust in the supply chain.

Trivium turned to Ultimaker 3D printers as a solution for manufacturing replacement parts in-house. They wanted to eliminate supplier dependency and reduce lead times, so routine and reactive maintenance was more efficient.

Conveyor infeed worm

One of the parts Trivium additively manufactures is an infeed worm – a precision timing screw that spins and spaces containers on conveyor belts.

The original part wore down, and Trivium discovered it was no longer available on enquiry. Paul Klopper, a Technical Specialist at the Dutch plant, turned to 3D printing for a solution and found it with the Ultimaker S5.

He scanned the part and remodelled it in CAD, splitting it into two pieces so they could be printed together. He then connected the two pieces with a metal rod so it could be installed on the machine, and it worked a charm.

Unfortunately, the ABS-printed part wore out quickly, so Paul turned to Ultimaker’s carbon fibre-reinforced nylon, which is much tougher.

Paul additively manufactured the part within six hours, and access to engineering materials enabled him to meet durability requirements.

Conveyor sensor wheel

Another application for 3D printing at Trivium is conveyor sensor wheels – handheld devices that measure conveyer belt speeds.

The wheel broke, and Trivium couldn’t get a replacement, so they had two possible solutions – make a wheel or order a new device.

Paul turned to the Ultimaker S5 to manufacture a wheel in-house. He printed the wheel in ABS with a TPU-95A outer layer for grip – TPU-95A mimics the performance of rubber and is highly resistant to abrasion.

The wheel works precisely like the original, and Paul now prints new wheels within 3-hours whenever needed.

The Ultimaker S5 has demonstrated that Trivium can rely on 3D printing to manufacture parts quickly in-house. The S5’s dual extrusion lets them combine materials in the same print session, reducing lead times and enhancing use cases.

Find out more

There are hundreds of other 3D printing applications beyond these three examples from Trivium. Check out our engineering and manufacturing page for more stories. Ultimaker first published this story.

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