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Foundries & 3D Printing Success
Part One

Why Foundries Should Invest in 3D Printing

Foundries are the backbone of manufacturing. Their output literally gives shape to the parts and pieces used to create commodities on shop floors around the world. That’s a lot of weight on their fiery shoulders. Foundries face a multitude of challenges in order to keep up with the ‘get it done yesterday’ demands of today’s fast paced market. But never fear, foundries can leverage 3D Printing to overcome those obstacles. Here are four reasons why foundries should utilize 3D Printing to keep their fires burning bright.

Foundry Obstacle:
Missing the Master Craftsman

In the past, foundries relied heavily on highly skilled craftsmen to create molds and patterns either by hand or with the use of a CNC machine. Imagine the intricate attention to detail needed to create a gate or riser – impressive! But when this skill set leaves the workforce, they take their years of knowledge and experience with them. How can foundries ensure their products achieve the same level of quality despite this reduction in trained experts?

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3D Printing Solution:
Printing with Precision

3D printers print precisely, every single time. CAD designers enter the project into the system and the 3D Printer uses an additive process to print the mold or casting according to those exact specifications. Foundries can rest easy knowing that their molds will always be accurate. The best part? This will result in more bandwidth for your master craftsman to focus on the real important projects. Not to mention, this will also allow for those high skilled workers to distribute their wealth of knowledge to other members.

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Foundry Obstacle:
The Drag of Design Deviations

It happens all the time, your foundry works with your client to convert their ideas into a finished product. You spend valuable time and energy developing a blueprint, creating a pattern with the CNC machine, casting the mold, and finishing the product…and then the client decides they want to modify the design. You start to sweat as you realize its back to the drawing board. The whole process has to start over again, and you’ve lost valuable production time. Even the smallest change requires weeks, or even months, to complete because a new pattern needs to be designed and built (often by hand) each and every time.

3D Printing Solution:
Fast, Efficient and Unlimited Customization

3D modeling software like SOLIDWORKS allows you to easily make design changes with a few quick clicks on a computer screen. Easy iterations equal endless possibilities without a drain on your resources. The best part? These designs don’t need to go through a time-consuming CNC machining process to be made. Instead they print directly from the 3D Printer, freeing up your CNC machine for other projects and significantly reducing your overall turn-around time.  Foundry patterns that took weeks to design and then fabricate now take hours from CAD design to finished product.  This efficiency gets your client’s product to market faster. Design Deviations? Bring it on!

Foundry Obstacle:
A Costly Waste

Foundries typically create patterns using a subtractive manufacturing process – whether it be carving away at materials by hand or cutting them with a CNC machine. By definition, this process takes away materials to achieve the desired product. In turn, there is a lot of waste and scrap on the factory floor. And wasted materials mean wasted money for the foundry AND its clients.

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3D Printing Solution:
Less Waste, More Savings

The additive process of 3D Printing means that materials don’t end up on the shop floor. Instead molds and patterns are created by adding the materials, layer by layer, to a print bed.  You only use the amount of materials needed to create the pattern or mold, leaving your shop floor clean (and your money in the bank).

Weight Plates

Foundry Obstacle:
A Weight on Your Shoulders

Even when the materials aren’t lying on the shop floor, they may be stuck to the final product.  Traditional foundry methods require additional components, like a taper, or draft angle, to ensure safe removal of a product from its pattern. These materials add weight, which is a challenge for end users seeking efficiencies.

3D Printing Solution:
Lighten the Load!

The accuracy of 3D Printing also helps to reduce the weight of the finished product.  Researchers from Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) did a comparative study of 3D printing vs. traditional sand casting of a pump bowl.  The result? The final product made from the 3D printing mold was nearly 27% lighter than a traditionally cast bowl. Why? The Additive process doesn’t require extra components to ensure safe removal of the product from the mold (so long, tapers!), thus reducing the weight of the final product. Reduced weight has significant implications. For example, a car or plane that weighs less will use up less fuel.

Lost, But Now Found(ry)?

It’s time to meet your foundry challenges head on with 3D Printing. DesignPoint’s team of 3D Printing experts are ready to show you how to keep your fires burning bright.  Give us a call (or send up a smoke signal)!

Want to learn more about 3D Printing?

Fill out the form to your right for a demo!