nVent is a leader in the design and manufacture of electrical enclosures, fastening systems and heat trace solutions (freeze-protection cables and controls for pipes and equipment).
Engineers were tasked with leak testing a large water distribution manifold in a new test chamber. The chamber is long and narrow and the manifold needed to be inserted through a narrow opening without damaging the manifold. This required the creation of a support, which would be strapped to the manifold to guide and center it within the chamber, see the image below:
The support needed to be durable enough to accommodate up to 40 load/unload cycles per day. It also had to exhibit low sliding friction to minimize the force needed to insert and remove the manifold. One solution was to fabricate a support system from machined metal. However, this posed several drawbacks:
- Longer lead time for fabrication
- Material waste associated with machining
- Manufacturability constraints of the support’s geometry
- Excessive metal-on-metal sliding friction between the support tool and the chamber
Instead of machining a multipart metal support structure, nVent engineers 3D printed a single-piece support on a Stratasys F370™ printer using Diran™ 410MF07 material. Diran 410MF07 is a tough thermoplastic tooling material with a lubricious, slippery surface finish.
This solution offered the following benefits:
- Significantly reduced lead time
- Lower material costs
- More design freedom to produce a conformal single-piece tool
- Lower tool-to-chamber surface friction
Using FDM® additive manufacturing, nVent was able to produce an effective support tool in just under 22 hours. In contrast, nVent’s internal machine shop estimated a two to three week lead time for machined components at a cost of $1000 for material and labor. This resulted in a 56% material cost savings and a lead time reduction of approximately 90%.
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The three printers in the series include, the Stratasys F170™, F270™ and Stratasys F370™, and support a broad range of capabilities and budgets for every stage of prototyping.
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Material Cost Savings: 56%
Lead Time Savings: ~90%
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