A Dutch chocolate factory is replacing metal machine parts with FDM-manufactured carbon-filled thermoplastic alternatives, thanks to Visual First, a 3D printing service bureau also operating in the Netherlands.
The bureau harnessed the Stratasys Fortus 450mc Production system to produce the parts in FDM Nylon 12CF composite material. Staff from The Chocolate Factory are said to be impressed with the high stiffness-to-weight ratio of the FDM Nylon 12CF and the subsequent rigidity of the parts. They are also enjoying the ability to 3D print replacement parts for their machinery on-demand, resulting in reduced machine downtime.
Based in Rotterdam, The Chocolate Factory runs a network of packaging machines, with the company’s daily throughput relying on the smooth operation of a hook-shaped metal part that lifts wrapped bars onto a conveyor belt. This part malfunctions with regularity, needing to be replaced around three times a month. Traditionally each part is handmade, and delivery can take up to a month. Fortunately, Visual First are operating in a world of pure imagination.
Image courtesy of stratasys.com