Chocolate Factory replaces metal parts with Stratasys composite 3D printing material

3D printed replacement machine part, produced in Stratasys FDM Nylon 12CF thermoplastic containing 35% chopped carbon fiber.  

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Stratasys Inc. (Minneapolis) announced that Dutch 3D service bureau, Visual First, is using FDM Nylon 12CF carbon-filled thermoplastic to replace metal machine parts for its customer, The Chocolate Factory. 

Based in Rotterdam, Netherlands, The Chocolate Factory runs a network of packaging machines, with the company’s daily throughput relying on the smooth operation of a simple, yet crucial, hook-shaped metal part that lifts wrapped bars onto a conveyer belt. A problem occurs when the part malfunctions – typically with such regularity that it necessitates replacement three times a month. As each replacement part is handmade, delivery can take over a month.

“It is crucial that the packaging machine is always operational, especially during hectic periods such as Christmas,” says Carl van de Rijzen, business owner at Visual First. “With Stratasys additive manufacturing, we can produce customized replacement parts on-demand that can perform just as effectively as the metal machine parts. We can 3D print and deliver production parts to The Chocolate Factory in under a week, which is vital to ensuring manufacturing line continuity.”

Van de Rijzen uses Stratasys’ high-performance FDM Nylon 12CF composite material, a carbon-filled thermoplastic containing 35% chopped carbon-fiber. Produced on the Stratasys Fortus 450mc Production 3D Printer, the 3D printed replacement machine part is currently being used at the factory.

“The success of the 3D printed part was instantly clear – the material is impossible to bend,” says van de Rijzen. “The part withstood all tests on the machine and multiple runs were completed without incident. The factory is now enjoying increased production throughput by replacing the metal machine part with our 3D printed version.”

Previously, constant human intervention meant that the functionality of the metal part suffered and the machine was often damaged. “Now, with the ability to optimize the design of the part with the Fortus 450mc, this has improved due to the part being much lighter than its metal counterpart,” continues van de Rijzen. “The Chocolate Factory is also enjoying significant economic benefits too, with the team reporting a 60% cost reduction on the part.”

“We’re witnessing a growing demand for 3D printed production parts and replacement parts for industrial machinery, especially for packaging machines,” concludes Nadav Sella, Head of Stratasys’ Emerging Solutions Business Unit. “These machines require a high-level of customization due to the large variety of products that are packaged. In many cases, the use of additive manufacturing can not only save time and cost during the manufacture of such machinery, it can also make them more efficient by reducing weight, simplifying the design and increasing functionality.”

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