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ACRO Automation Systems Inc. News

ACRO Automation Adopts 3D Printing for Custom Equipment Solutions

Building custom automated machinery takes several hundred hours of conceptualizing, designing, manufacturing, assembling and testing. However, in the current competitive landscape where every second counts, you want to procure equipment quickly for each new project. At ACRO, we understand and appreciate your need to reduce the lead times without compromising the quality and accuracy of your design. In keeping with our philosophy of using the most advanced manufacturing technology and equipment, we continue to invest in, and adopt modern and innovative processes that help you meet your equipment design requirements.

3D Printing: Highlights and Advantages

An important aspect while working with shorter turnaround times is to provide our customers the most accurate sample parts that match the CAD Solid Models. For this purpose, ACRO has now started using 3D printing technology that provides flexibility like never before:

  • We can eliminate any delays in the system design or build by producing the sample parts for you, as needed
  • We can create prototype fixture components to test the new design concepts and various workpiece gripping and locating parts.
  • In addition to prototyping and samples, we are successfully using 3D printing / additive manufacturing to produce the robotic end of arm tools for final production.

End of Arm Tool (EOAT)

This is an example of an End of Arm Tool (EOAT) that features internal vacuum passages with threaded connections for fittings and vacuum cups.

3D printing brings several advantages to the table. Not only does it allow you to quickly create a prototype part, but you can also use simple, low-cost materials for the initial run, which translates into significant savings in the pre-production testing costs. After validation of the final design, you can use the higher strength material to give you the desired precision and production quality.

3D Printing: The Process

There are several methods within 3D printing technology. You can choose from Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) printers that use low-cost thermoplastics to the high-end laser sintering printers that use metals, such as tool steels and titanium. At ACRO, we currently we use the FDM process for producing functional prototypes, concept models, and manufacturing aids. Despite its low cost materials, the FDM process boasts an exceptional strength to weight ratio and design accuracy. While we typically use Polylactic Acid (PLA) and Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) materials, we also offer the option to add carbon fiber and other composites that further enhance the strength of the components.

3D printing is a fairly new technology, and its machines, materials and methods continue to evolve rapidly. We are not too far from a scenario where high-volume manufacturing through 3D printing will be a real possibility. At ACRO, our highly skilled and experienced staff continues to monitor the technological advances in this area. We are eager to adapt newer skills and tools and bring you the most efficient solutions that positively impact your bottom line.

3D Printed Prototype and Actual Steel Part

This is an example of a part that we needed to keep our design process moving, while we waited for the production quality parts, which were to be used for final validation of the equipment.

3D Printed Prototype and Actual Steel Part

The blue part was printed per the Solid Model CAD data from SolidWorks and the actual steel production part is included as a comparison.

3D Printed Prototype Component with Close up View

3D Printed Prototype Component with Close up View

Another view of the 3D printed part and a close up showing the many layers used to create it.

Final Assembled Brake Pedal

Final Assembled Brake Pedal

The above components were the starting point for this final assembled Brake Pedal.

It is possible to 3D print this entire assembly as one piece, or as multiple components based on your requirement. With 3D printing technology, you have the freedom to decide how to manage the production and movement of the actual product.

Give Your Business a Competitive Edge with ACRO

ACRO Automation Systems Inc. has been a lead player in custom-designed, manufactured automation solutions since 1936. From high-speed 3D printing, to high-resolution 3D laser scanning, we have been investing in modern technology that allows us to offer cost-effective services and solutions for the challenging production problems faced by our customers. From automated welding, assembly and online testing, to flexible robotic systems, lean manufacturing and complete turnkey solutions, we have been serving global OEM manufacturers as a one-stop for their automation machinery customization needs.

If you are searching for a supplier who uses the latest technology to build you the highest value equipment that improves your productivity, quality and profitability, look no further than ACRO.

Learn more about our 3D printing and other customized equipment solutions. Call ACRO Automated Solutions Inc. at (414) 352-4540 or contact us online.

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