Custom 3D Printed Parts Leads to Profit
Pack Line Ltd. (Pack Line), a company established in 1994 and headquartered in Holon Israel, is known to be a world-leading manufacturer of packing machines and supplier to some of the sizable names in dairy, food and cosmetic industries. Pack Line Ltd. produces inventive linear, rotary filling and sealing machines, MAP systems and piston fillers that boost production and operating capabilities while decreasing operating costs.
“Not only do we enjoy a cost saving, but thanks to the ability to 3D print a customized part on-demand, there is no minimum order requirement. On certain orders we are witnessing cost savings of up to 55%.”
-Alex Karetny, Pack Line Ltd.
Across the world, Pack Line has their machines installed at their customers’ locations, and it essential they ensure that their machines are working both effectively and efficiently at all times. Even a small technical problem with a machine can drastically obstruct a company’s daily production, and this will lead to unnecessary and expensive production line delays. Every machine that Pack Line designs are custom-built for that customer’s requirements or a specific industry, and this level of customization means that a low volume of parts is required- this is posed a struggle that Pack Line needed to overcome.
Overcoming Cost and Time Barriers
In the past, Pack Line used approaches like CNC machining or metal forming in order to make replacement parts for all its machines. However, the time it took to make customized, complex parts, in addition to sourcing replacement parts, demonstrated to be too costly, especially considering Pack Line wide international customer base.
Pack Line found a solution to their problems by working with Stratasys FDM additive manufacturing technology.
“To produce a complex metal machine part using CNC would cost at least $100 per unit and we’d always be obliged to purchase at least four units,” says Alex Karetny, Engineering Department Manager at Pack Line. “However, by using the Stratasys Fortus 450mc™, the cost is reduced to around $80 per unit. Not only do we enjoy a cost saving, but thanks to the ability to 3D print a customized part on-demand, there is no minimum order requirement. On certain orders, we are witnessing cost savings of up to 55%.”
Cost savings isn’t the only benefit of being able to produce custom 3D printed parts. Metal-formed or CNC replacement parts also had to be outsourced, and because only a small quantity was needed this process took at least one week to come to fruition. In comparison, the Stratasys Fortus 450mc production 3D printer is able to build a replacement part in only two hours time- this is a great time saving for both Pack Line and its customers. Pack Line is now able to save time in the beginning design stages, and this allows them to provide their customers with their machines faster than ever. Concurrently, any manufacturing downtime caused by problematic parts can be drastically reduced.
More Design Freedom
Another benefit of the Fortus 450mc is the design freedom it provides. This freedom was evident when the Pack Line ream was assigned to construct a hopper for a food packaging machine. The hopper is built inside a metal detector which meant that it could not be made out of metal. Pack Line decided to build the hopper from ULTEM™ 1010 resin material.
“This is an application for which we have always had to be creative; the geometry of the part is very complex and often created a bottleneck in designing and manufacturing a replacement part,” explained Karetny. “The Fortus 450mc offered us the means to design a more functional part. Not only did this reduce the time associated with producing this part, but as with our other applications, the ULTEM™ 1010 material is resilient and lightweight, meeting our customers’ demands and matching the performance of metal replacements. We simply couldn’t have designed such a functional part without additive manufacturing.”
Custom 3D Printed Parts Replace Metal Production Parts
Moreover, Pack Line also needed to create machine parts that were not only time efficient and cost-effective, but also dependable, strong and durable.
“Initially, we were sceptical if a 3D printed part would be strong enough to withstand the force of the packaging machine, while also complying with specific and varying industry regulations,” explained Karetny. “One customer required replacement pushers for a coffee capsule pushing machine, so the part had to be strong and resilient in order to perform.”
Pack Line found their solution in ULTEM™ 1010 thermoplastic resin, one of the most durable FDM materials on the market that provides high thermal and chemical resistance. Built on the Fortus 450mc, the pushers were produced through additive manufacturing (3D printing) and then returned back to Pack Line to be tested.
“The strength of the part was instantly clear,” says Karetny, “It withstood all the tests on the machine, and its durability was impressive. Now our customer is using six of these replacement pushers on its machines to huge success.”
Going onward, Pack Line expects to increase its use of additive manufacturing for parts that have complex geometries and designs. The ability to have custom 3D printed parts will be essential for this endeavour to manufacture on-demand, capable replacement solutions for its customers.