Aug 5, 2016 | By Benedict

A Scottish business set up by a former soccer player has invested £805,000 ($1.05 million) in an SLM 500HL 3D printer in order to increase its supply of 3D printed metal parts. CA Models, based in the city of Stirling in central Scotland, counts nine Formula 1 teams amongst its customers.

Stirling-based rapid prototyping specialist CA Models raced ahead of its competitors this week after purchasing a massive SLM 500HL 3D printer from German company SLM Solutions. The high-performance selective laser melting (SLM) 3D printer will be used to create printed aluminum parts, including those designed for use in Formula 1 cars. CA Models claims to be the first UK businesses to offer such a service.

The investment was made with the support of Clydesdale Bank, whose Relationship Manager Robert Stark facilitated the high-profile deal. CA Models will now be able to supply 3D printed aluminum parts to its customers in the aerospace, automotive, defense, oil and gas, medical device, and product design industries, as well as its nine Formula 1 team clients.

“Over the next 18 months the target is to implement ISO 9001 accreditation which will elevate our existing status as a supplier to the aerospace and defence industries, and attract new customers requiring ISO 9001 approved components,” Clark Campbell, owner and managing director of CA Models, told Scottish Business News Network. “Formula 1 is a sector we expect to see growth in too. We’re already getting orders in for components for next year’s cars which are even more technically advanced than this year’s.”

Campbell became a professional soccer player at the age of 15 and enjoyed spells at London-based West Ham United and Scottish club St. Johnstone before injury curtailed his career in sport. He later became an apprentice for an engineering firm, before founding CA Models in 1983 at the age of 25.

“The new metal 3D printer helps us to create components in a quicker, more cost effective and precise way than traditional machining,” Campbell said. “This sets us apart from our competitors and provides a solid platform to build future growth. Previously, companies looking for prototypes or parts would send designs to machining firms who could take weeks to return the finished article, but with our new equipment, we can generate a physical model from its design within a day or two.”

The SLM 500HL 3D printer, manufactured by Lübeck-based SLM Solutions, provides a build envelope of 500 x 280 x 365 mm and uses four quad-fiber lasers (4 x 400W) and a fully automated powder management system to create high-quality parts from metal additive manufacturing powders. The machine offers layer thicknesses of 20 µm - 75 µm and minimum feature size of 150 µm. Using the SLM 3D printer, CA Models is able to incorporate hidden holes in its metal designs, reducing the weight of a component without diminishing its strength.

“CA Models is an excellent example of a business targeting growth through innovation,” said Simon Kerr, Head of Clydesdale Bank’s Customer Banking Centre in Stirling. “Having only the second machine of its type and the only one available for commercial use makes the firm’s offering unique and stands them in good stead for future growth. Clydesdale Bank is proud to support CA Models and looks forward to continuing to support Clark and his team.”

CA Models employs 34 staff and has a “strong” order book. With the new 3D printer taking operations up a gear, Campbell believes he can continue to steer the company in the right direction. Moreover, he won’t be afraid to make similar investments in the future: “We’re always keeping an eye out on where we can improve and develop the business,” he said.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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