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3D Printing Lightweight and Durable Robot End-of-Arm Tooling

March 2, 2021


FreeForm Technologies, St. Marys, PA, a provider of additive-manufacturing (AM) and engineering services, has 3D-printed robotic end-of-arm (EOA) tooling for Allegheny Electric Service (AES), also in St. Marys.  AES provides control-systems design and industrial-automation support to metal stampers and other manufacturers.

In this case, the application is for automotive-parts manufacturing, challenging FreeForm to develop a strong, lightweight EOA tooling attachment for a high-volume precision-inspection application with varying weight requirements. The complex part enables two tools to sit at a 90-deg. angle to each other on one arm.

To build the part, FreeForm employed the binder-jetting metal-AM process on an ExOne Innovent+ machine.  Comparatively, the resulting part carried a price tag one-fourth that to print the part using direct metal laser sintering; proved more durable than carbon-fiber reinforced 3D printing; and weighs less than a machined part.

FreeForm first employed generative software to produce a lightweight design that could not be manufactured outside of 3D printing. Then, binder-jet 3D printing, of 17-4PH stainless steel, created a part measuring 4.5 by 2 by 2 in. and weighing 95 grams, at a total cost of $150. (prior to finishing).

“This project shows exactly why we started the company, to help customers solve challenging problems, says Chris Aiello, vice president of business development at FreeForm Technologies. “Binder jetting was really the only way to go for this project. It was one-fourth the cost of DMLS, and we did it in a strong material that reduced the payload on the robot. As Allegheny Electric Service rolls this technology out, it's going to provide bigger savings for its customers.

"The surface quality is superior to any of the other printers,” Aiello adds. “It's an easy machine to run. It was great for this kind of application."

Industry-Related Terms: Sintering
View Glossary of 3D Metal Printing Terms

 

See also: ExOne

Technologies: Applications, Other

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