Functional Integration

Fewer assembly components, less logistical effort and greater flexibility: Additive Manufacturing technology from EOS makes it possible to integrate functions in parts – during serial production.

Hettich washing rotor with improved functionality, produced with Additive Manufacuring (AM) from EOS (Source: Hettich).
Hettich washing rotor with improved functionality, produced with Additive Manufacuring (AM) from EOS (Source: Hettich).
Functional integration means implementing as many technical functions as possible into as few parts as possible. Additive Manufacturing (AM) offers a clear advantage for this requirement: laser sintering technology from EOS often allows all the required parts to be produced in a single step – including functional components like springs, hinged joints or even pneumatic actuators. This means that a large number of the otherwise necessary assembly steps can be dispensed with. This saves money and minimises the likelihood of errors in production. 

Here is an example to illustrate this: centrifuge manufacturer Hettich succeeded in significantly improving the cost-effectiveness of its serial production with AM. Centrifuges use the centrifugal force that applies to mixtures while being rotated to separate out the components. Typical applications are the preparation of blood samples or the production of a blood analysis. When manufactured in the conventional way, a washing rotor consists of 32 individual parts that have to be assembled one-by-one. This requires complex tools and time-consuming assembly processes, particularly because the stainless steel injection tubes have to be carefully deburred. Hettich looked for a new solution and found one in AM from EOS. This enabled the manufacturer to reconstruct the washing rotor and to optimise it in such a way that many functions could be integrated in the components during production. The results speak for themselves: 

  • The new washing rotor consists of  3 instead of 32 assembly parts, two of which are produced by Hettich using AM
  • Impoved product functionality
  • Tools are no longer required
  • No more costly deburring
  • Much faster assembly and lower logistics costs
 
   
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1/1 Stabilised spring produced using Additive Manufacturing from EOS (source: Thiele + Wagner).
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1/2 Stabilised spring produced using Additive Manufacturing from EOS (source: Thiele + Wagner).
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2/1 Articulated joint produced using Additive Manufacturing from EOS (source: Thiele + Wagner).
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2/2 Articulated joint produced using Additive Manufacturing from EOS (source: Thiele + Wagner).
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3/1 Dispenser joint produced using Additive Manufacturing from EOS (source: Thiele + Wagner).
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3/2 Dispenser joint produced using Additive Manufacturing from EOS (source: Thiele + Wagner).
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4/1 Concatenated cross-spring joints produced using Additive Manufacturing from EOS (source: Thiele + Wagner).
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4/2 Concatenated cross-spring joints produced using Additive Manufacturing from EOS (source: Thiele + Wagner).
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5/1 Scissor-action joint produced using Additive Manufacturing from EOS (source: Thiele + Wagner).
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5/2 Scissor-action joint produced using Additive Manufacturing from EOS (source: Thiele + Wagner).
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6/1 Auxetic structure produced using Additive Manufacturing from EOS (source: Thiele + Wagner).
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6/2 Auxetic structure produced using Additive Manufacturing from EOS (source: Thiele + Wagner).
Hettich managed to reduce production costs because the containers could be produced without tools and because functions could be integrated. In addition, the company can now produce in small batches without major extra effort, enabling it to make regional adjustments for example.

Generative manufacturing makes it possible to produce intermeshing structures that can operate together in an interactive way. Articulated joints, concatenated joints, stabilised springs or scissor-action mechanisms can be used in automation and production technology. This sector often calls for customised and complex devices for picking up, transporting and storing objects, as well as a host of similar tasks. However, conventional construction methods are not particularly well suited to Additive Manufacturing. Newly developed monolithic constructions allow the required degree of movement and are optimized for Additive Manufacturing. Other areas where additively manufactured structures with integrated functions can be successfully produced include sports equipment, medical technology and orthotic and prosthetic manufacturing, in other words wherever products need to be adapted to the human body.


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