3D printing in manufacturing
Industrial 3D printers now represent a good alternative to conventional manufacturing technologies for producing plastics. Developer Josef Průša contributed greatly toward popularizing 3D printing in the Czech Republic. Less well known, however, are the additive technologies that in the last two years have made a major shift from smaller desktop 3D printers to large, industrial machines that churn out thousands of parts a day, and thus able to compete with the established methods of manufacturing plastic parts using injection molding machines and machining processes. 3D printers have become part of the trend in digitizing information, control and manufacturing processes in Czech companies.
Highly productive HP Jet Fusion 3D printers have been installed at Škoda Auto for the past two years, aiding in the rapid development of new vehicles. Along with the aviation and medical industries, the automotive industry represents a key industry for developing 3D printing, from manufacturing complex parts to quickly modifying components for the emerging electric car era. The Siemens plant in Moravia uses HP Jet Fusion to produce jigs.
Injection molding has no competition from the standpoint of manufacturing volume and unit costs. Manufacturing the mold is expensive and time-consuming however, and today’s business calls for quick changes, sophisticated design and lower labour costs for parts assembly. Several years ago Hewlett Packard introduced 3D printers able to provide hundreds or thousands of final components of any shape within 24 hours of commencing printing.
Today industrial 3D printers are part of the digital manufacturing ecosystem, which uses a single online interface to track incoming projects, pricing, prepping for production, production timeline, equipment maintenance, sorting and quality control, final modifications and distribution of the printed parts. This significantly reduces production and logistics costs and makes it possible to respond flexibly to fluctuations or spikes in demand for plastic parts. Clients do not need to be at the mercy of an unstable supply chain with foreign suppliers, but can instead quickly modify their production schedule in times of impending economic crisis.