Sep 24, 2016 | By Tess

Founded in 1885, Minnesota-based foundry Alliant Castings has made a name for itself providing quality castings to its clients for generations. Part of their success, according to the company, is owed to always keeping up to date with the latest technologies, and combining their core values and expertise with state of the art systems. Most recently this has included the adoption of 3D printing, as the family owned foundry has recently integrated a 3D printer into their castings workflow.

The 3D printer in question, Titan 3D RoboticsAtlas 2.0 has allowed the Minnesota-based company to improve upon its traditional processes by both cutting back on lead times and overall production costs. In fact, the company even expects that the new technology will allow them to reduce their production costs by half, and speed up the pattern making process for the castings by at least three times.

Titan 3D Robotics, a 3D printing company from Colorado Springs, CO, supplied Alliant Castings with their Atlas 2.0 3D printer, an industrial 3D printer with a build space of 36 x 36 x 48 inches (915 x 915 x 1220mm). Titan got Alliant Castings interested in their products by first demonstrating how the process would go. As Titan 3D Robotics explains, they met Alliant Castings owner Tom Renk at the American Foundry Society’s 2016 Cast Expo, where they became acquainted with Titan 3D Robotics’ products.

Once in contact, Titan demonstrated their Atlas 3D printer by 3D printing sample parts for Alliant Castings to test. The parts, the top and bottom pieces of a mold (otherwise known as cope and drag), were printed in just 12 hours each. Printed out of ABS, the parts were then shipped to Alliant Castings in Minnesota, where the foundry proceeded to mount the 3D printed parts, mold them, and finally cast them in metal. The whole process, from pattern making to finished product took a grand total of two days. Pretty impressive, huh?

After seeing the speed and cost advantages of incorporating 3D printing into their pattern making process, Alliant Castings bought Titan’s Atlas 2.0 with a heated enclosure for its pattern shop. Having the machine in house means that Alliant Castings will no longer have to outsource its pattern making, saving both money and time for their business and their clients. As the company explains, what the 3D printer allowed them to accomplish in 24 hours and for the cost of roughly $1,300, would traditionally take up to two weeks and cost about $3,500.

According to the foundry, they will also explore other applications for the large-scale 3D printer, including various kinds of molding processes. For instance, because of ABS’s heat resistant and strong properties, Alliant Castings will be able to use its 3D printed parts for pressure molding (aka greensand casting) for large orders, but will also be able to 3D print out of PLA and use an air set molding process for smaller orders. The latter requires more time, but often results in higher accuracy molds than pressure molding. Other uses for the 3D printer include printing master patterns, as well as using PLA parts for a sort of lost-foam casting process (wherein the PLA would be melted or burnt out of the mold as molten metal was poured in).

Alliant Castings is just one of several companies taking the 3D printing plunge by adopting the manufacturing technology into their process. In fact, within the foundry industry they are hoping to share their knowledge of 3D printed pattern making to spread the word to other foundries. Considering that they are dedicated to staying on top of the technological curve, it is no wonder the family owned business has been successfully operating for over 100 years.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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