Continental AG deploys Stratasys FDM 3D printing technology to produce ESD-compliant manufacturing aids

Continental AG is using Stratasys‘ Fused Deposition Modelling 3D printing technology to produce ESD-compliant manufacturing aids. 

The company – which in addition to its production of automotive tyres serves internal and external customers with sample parts, mechanical parts and series production parts – has harnessed the Stratasys Fortus 450mc platform to manufacture components like ESD-compliant gluing jigs and X-ray guides in Stratasys’ ULTEM 9085 and ABS ESD7 materials.

Stratasys’ 3D printing technology has been installed inside Continental’s Additive Design and manufacturing (ADaM) Competence Center and was purchased primarily because of its ability to produce ESD-compliant parts. Continental Engineering Services works with a range of electronic components on the manufacturing floor, with static dissipative properties considered to be ‘paramount’, yet until the installation of the Fortus 450mc, the company didn’t have the capacity to 3D print such parts.

“We carefully select additive manufacturing technologies in our Competence Center according to their high-performance capabilities, so that we can undertake the widest range of applications possible,” commented Stefan Kammann, Head of Samples and Mechanical Solutions at Continental Engineering Services. “The Fortus 450mc is a great addition to our portfolio, as it enables us to access highly specialised materials that allow us to meet the requirements of demanding production applications on the factory floor. In fact, it’s the only 3D printer we have that is capable of creating ESD-compliant production parts in very little time.”

One example of a 3D printed ESD-compliant component to be produced on the back of the Fortus 450mc installation is the gluing jig which has been designed to aid in the assembly of an automotive display. The ABD ESD7 material ensures the component is durable and stable, while also preventing static discharge that could damage the product, impair its performance or cause a fire.

Continental is also enjoying the time-saving benefits of 3D printing technology, with manufacturing aids like the gluing jig, or the X-ray guide (above) which has been manufactured in ULTEM 9085, able to be turned around in a matter of hours. This has helped Continental to ensure ‘continuous production and little to no machinery downtime’ and thus save on costs.

“While the current global economic climate continues to present challenges, additive manufacturing is playing a key role in delivering much-needed efficiencies for business across the product development process,” offered Yann Rageul, Head of Manufacturing Business Unit for EMEA and Asia at Stratasys comments. “With more and more specialised materials now available, manufacturers are able to meet the exacting requirements of demanding traditional production applications and introduce more customisation benefits into the process as a result. It is great to see companies such as Continental embracing additive manufacturing within their businesses to overcome production challenges and ensure quality of service to customers is maintained. For our customers, and most businesses right now, this is a strategic imperative.”

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