Last year the superseding theme of TCT Show + Personalize was that the show is not only the place to see cutting edge technology but also the place to do business. Once again, that was the case at this year’s event with deals made, contacts shared and machines being sold straight off the show floor.
One of those success stories came from 3D technologies solutions provider, Europac3D who, with its popular 3D body scanner taking centre stage on the booth, had visitors eagerly forming a queue to see themselves in 3D.
But it wasn’t just mass-market interest in consumer 3D printing that had people keen to flock to one of the UK’s leading 3D printing and scanning technology provider. With its biggest stand to date, Europac3D were busy demonstrating a range of measuring devices and complete 3D solutions to industrial customers.
3D technologies are about finding solutions to problems where conventional methods just don’t quite cut the mustard. UK-based plastic products supplier, AER Stafford, found itself looking for just that when faced with finding an accurate measuring solution for a selection of plastic moulded automotive parts.
The company, which supplies plastic and foam parts to major automotive names such as Jaguar, Aston Martin and Toyota, were tasked with the job of inspecting parts that would help form the back of a new Land Rover model. Without any measuring equipment to speak off, they sought the help of Europac3D to come up with a suitable alternative to traditional measurement methods and capture a selection of challenging parts.
For non-rigid or slightly curved pieces, finding a fixture to hold them in place and achieve precise data can be difficult. Essentially, if these parts are placed and measured on a flat surface, it will distort the measurement. The solution was to use a combination of 3D printing, a traditional measuring arm and software to accurately measure the parts.
The team at Europac3D began by creating a 3D printed vacuum fixture using the CAD model of the original part in a single day. By placing holes in both the top and bottom of the fixture, they were able to create a double vacuum and hold the part firmly in place without having to clamp it down and measure the part against the original model.
“You wouldn’t have been able to do that if you had made it in wood because you have to hollow it out in the middle,” John Becket, Managing Director at Europac3D explained. “With it being 3D printed you actually save money on the fixture because you can hollow it out in the middle and create a double vacuum. So not only does it pull the part down to the fixture but it also pulled the fixture down to the table.”
Using a 7-axis Ace arm allows for increased flexibility and precision for capturing complex geometrical details and the ergonomic design allows users to scan easily for long periods, ideal for large automotive parts. Designed to provide the most comprehensive quality reporting of as-built parts, this accompanying software is the model solution for precision parts with minimal human interaction and a completely streamlined process.
John, added: “It shows how by using 3D printing as well as arm measuring you’ve got a double whammy.”