Plastic grippers from a 3D printer and made with tribo-filaments from igus are 85% less expensive and 70% faster than others currently being used in the packaging industry.
3D printing allows for single batches to become a reality and enabled for the personalized serial production of furniture, shoes, and watches, for example. The packaging industry can also benefit from additive manufacturing.
Since 2015, igus has been offering tribologically optimized 3D printing filaments for the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) process, specifically for the printing of wearing parts. The filaments are made from self-lubricating iglide plastics and are designed for wear and friction.
Germany Cosmetics Company Solves Packaging Issue
Carecos Kosmetic GmbH faced an issue with its packaging process, and solved it with 3D plastic grippers.
If a product had to be changed, the company had to have new grippers made for the packaging machines, which would grip the lids and screw them on to products. The company had previously used an elaborate aluminum gripper that cost more than $11,500 per part, and required six weeks to execute a changeover. In an industrial sector that is becoming increasingly nimble, it its essential for manufacturers to transition far more rapidly and economically produce small batches.
Carecos Kosmetic, the Germany-based manufacturer of high-quality cosmetic products, turned to the the tribologically-optimized iglide I150 filament, and discovered a stable, impact-resistant material for 3D printing. The company found that it could use a gripper that can be printed within 10 to 12 hours.
Lubrication- and Maintenance-free, Optimized for Friction and Wear
Because of high costs and the long production time of the metal grippers, Carecos Kosmetic initially tried 3D print grippers with standard plastics such as ABS and PLA. However, the printing processes did not provide satisfactory results.
The company turned to igus and iglide I150, and now has a lubrication-free and maintenance-free tribo-filament optimized for friction and wear.
Almost every element of a gripper is flexible and glides on shafts and pins, so that the individual parts are exposed to constant wear. Metallic parts must often be fitted with separate bearings or lubricated in the application.
The use of iglide I150 in 3D printing enabled the company to save up to 85% of the cost and 70% of the manufacturing time compared to the previously selected aluminium formats. The printed plastic grippers are also seven times lighter than metal grippers.
Besides its ease of processing, the special feature of iglide I150 is its food contact compliance with EU Regulation 10/2011. With this certification, customers can also use the versatile tribo-filament to print special parts for moving applications that are in direct contact with food, beverages or even cosmetics.
In addition to iglide I150, igus offers five additional filaments for the printing of wearing parts in a wide variety of application scenarios. Compared to standard materials such as polylactide (PLA), these plastics from igus are up to 50 times more wear-resistant and can be processed on all standard 3D printers.
Printing service expands material range
Companies that do not have 3D printers can have their individual wear-resistant parts printed directly at igus using the FDM process or selective laser sintering (SLS). For these cases, igus offers a 3D printing service.
Tribo-filaments can be obtained as a filament material, or alternatively as an already finished, ready-to-install printed component from the igus 3D printing service. The appropriate data is transferred online into the browser window in STEP format via drag and drop. Next, the required quantities are specified, and a suitable material selected.
Depending on the request, a formal offer is made, or an order is placed immediately. In the SLS printing process, igus can also produce complex special parts very quickly and even make components with a height of up to 300 millimeters, which could only be produced in mechanical or casting technology with much more elaborate processing and using expensive special tools. Even today, small batches of up to 500 units are being produced from the company’s own laser sintering material iglide I3 and the SLS material for gears iglide I6 within a very short time.