Merit3D, a rural Utah-based additive manufacturing company, is leading a ground-breaking approach to mass production that promises to reshape traditional manufacturing practices. It recently announced that it had received a massive order for one million 3D printed parts from Adhesive Technology, a leading supplier of epoxy products facing supply chain challenges.
Adhesive Technology chose Merit3D as a partner after learning about their expertise in mass-producing parts using additive manufacturing. Adhesive Technology was looking for a hanger production solution, specifically for their epoxy tubes. Their supply chain issues demanded an innovative approach because their products were distributed across major retail stores.
One Million 3D Printed Parts
Merit3D wasted no time in designing and rigorously testing parts for their state-of-the-art Photocentric Magna printers. The team successfully qualified EPD 1006, a ground-breaking material developed in collaboration with BASF, a well-known chemical company. This material, which is similar to Polypropylene, which is used in a variety of consumer goods, is efficiently printed on Magna printers. Merit3D accomplished a remarkable feat in a matter of weeks, producing and delivering an astounding 40,000 parts per week to Adhesive Technology.
Originally designed for a batch of 30,000 pieces, design improvements were implemented at the 100,000-piece mark to optimise cost and functionality.
The hanger, which connects the mixing nozzle for epoxy applications to the epoxy tube, exemplifies the true power of additive manufacturing. While injection moulding could have produced this part efficiently, additive manufacturing offers unrivalled design agility and continuous improvement capabilities. As a result, the hanger design has evolved to be more versatile and universally compatible with a wider range of mixing nozzles.
The next design enhancement, which is scheduled for 500,000 units, aims to increase versatility and meet customer needs. Additive manufacturing allows businesses to make unlimited design iterations and improvements, eliminating the need for costly and time-consuming mould adjustments.
Spencer Loveless, CEO of Merit3D, hailed the project as a significant step towards reshoring efforts and fortifying America’s manufacturing sector. According to Loveless, “Manufacturing is undergoing a digital revolution, with companies – both large and small – embracing additive manufacturing.” He emphasized the increasing trend of utilizing 3D printers for prototyping, which, thanks to advancing technologies and declining equipment costs, has transformed additive manufacturing into a viable mass production option. Merit3D introduced the term “Protoduction” to describe the seamless transition from prototype to final production, ensuring identical quality and materials.
Blake Merrell, Co-founder and COO of Merit3D, echoed the sentiment, highlighting the awe-inspiring potential of this process. In his words, “It’s amazing how fast a company can now go from prototyping to mass production.”
Several key factors contributed significantly to the realisation of this ground-breaking achievement. Merit3D’s unwavering dedication to reviving American manufacturing through additive manufacturing was critical. Furthermore, remarkable technological advancements, most notably the Photocentric Magna printers, handled the large volumes of parts produced each day with ease. Merit3D received critical support in this endeavour from the Utah Manufacturers Modernization Grant, which facilitated the acquisition of automation equipment, including cost-cutting robotic systems. Furthermore, BASF’s contribution was critical in co-developing a tough and cost-effective material, which propelled the project to new heights.
Merit3D’s breakthrough serves as a beacon of hope in Carbon County, Utah, a region that has weathered economic downturns linked to its coal-centric industry. As coal mines and coal-fired power plants close, economists, government leaders, and businesses are working to create over 1,750 new jobs to compensate for the job losses.
Merit3D invites companies interested in exploring additive manufacturing for mass production to visit their official website, and use the instant estimating tool with their 3D file.
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