Ricoh 3D has once again confirmed its credentials as a leading 3D printing company after being nominated as a 2023 Cool Parts Showcase finalist – a competition launched by leading media brand, Additive Manufacturing.
For Ricoh 3D, the Telford-Based Additive Manufacturing company has been nominated as a finalist in the Best Bespoke Solution category, for its work in creating 3D printed Industrial Machine Feet for a global food distribution firm.
The Industrial Machine Feet were originally intended to be created using fabricated steel but were instead polymer 3D printed using Multi Jet Fusion. By using a polymer, Ricoh 3D were able to reduce weight, lead time and shipping cost.
The initial challenge faced by Ricoh 3D was obtaining ‘buy-in’ from the customer, as most companies would often opt for bespoke fabricated steel. However, this can prove difficult in manufacturing timescales – having to consider business time-frame pressures to work to and resulting global impacts, in addition to incurring high expenses.
One challenge was convincing the customer that this alternative solution would work more effectively; swaying them away from symmetrical and over-engineered large steel works and convincing them that the solution would still have the performative ability to hold a machine weighing around 500kg.
A new approach was adopted, but the initial designs were limited to conventional CAD modelling methods. This limitation meant that standard cuts and parametric modelling would typically generate an over engineered component.
Ricoh 3D were able to work with Measurement Solutions Limited (MSL) and learned from their expertise on using nTop – an advanced 3D modelling software perfectly suited for making bespoke engineering parts.
The engineers at Ricoh 3D were familiar with optimisation and the ability to design components that perform to the specific application requirements, whilst also leading to organic and interesting shapes that are impossible to model via 3D CAD.
Utilising MSL’s nTop expertise enabled Ricoh 3D to take a more advanced engineering approach to the design and development of the machine feet. In addition to which, there was a much shorter lead time with this approach, and it was also therefore more cost-effective.
The new, more lightweight parts were manufactured as print-on-demand and assembled in a controlled environment at Ricoh UK Products Limited (RPL), the home of Ricoh 3D. Furthermore, this satisfied an initial consideration for freight costs as the machine feet needed shipping overseas to the end customer, so ‘lightweighting’ the final product was extremely beneficial.
Senior Engineer, Richard Minifie, said: “Ricoh’s Machine Feet are ‘cool’ for a number of reasons.
“Not least because of the visual impact the parts have as a result of Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and optimisation but because they represent how our younger engineers are turning to 3D printing to solve real engineering problems.
“By using all of the tools available this is a true representation of how 3D printing can be used to its maximum with benefits beyond the physical part itself.”
The Cool Parts Showcase winners will be unveiled at the Formnext Forum in Austin, Texas on August 30, with voting opening on July 10.
For further technical information on the optimisation process of the Machine Feet, please click here to read the full case study.
Stay tuned for further updates and voting information by following @Ricoh3D on socials.