Olomouc foundry significantly reduces time for prototype production thanks to 3D printing
The two UNEX foundries, one in Uničov and one in Olomouc, are capable of producing up to approx. 39,000 tonnes of steel and ductile and grey iron castings a year. The smallest products weigh just 50 grams, while the heaviest may be up to 20 tonnes.
The Olomouc foundry specialises on cast iron castings up to 6.5 kg produced in larger batches, designed primarily for car, truck and bus manufacturers, construction equipment and air-conditioning units. With increasing customer requirements for reducing delivery times, the normal prototype production time has proven too long and has had to be reduced significantly. Traditional procedures do not permit any acceleration, so we had to find a brand new solution. UNEX technologists believed that it could be 3D printing in combination with the use of aluminium-based epoxies. Their assumptions proved right after the first tests, and the new method has been implemented in practice very quickly.
The stop bracket production may be an example.
Recently, UNEX has been contacted by a major European bus and truck manufacturer with a requirement for mass production of ductile iron castings to be used in vehicle chassis.
“We managed to produce and deliver the demonstration samples in a record-breaking time of 3 weeks, whereas the normal time is at least double that in similar cases. The sample production costs were also much lower, about one third. We achieved the time and money savings thanks to application of 3D printing technology to production of matrix models of the product, bosses, inlets and other components,” says Radoslav Pastorek, Head Technologist of the Olomouc foundry.
The reduced sample delivery time as well as the meeting of requirements for quality of the units delivered are a basis for follow-up negotiations and future cooperation. This is confirmed by Pavel Rak, UNEX Business Development Manager: “We are negotiating with a customer that might become one of the key clients for our foundry operations. Moreover, it might be not a one-off but long-term cooperation. Being able to present samples for negotiations way ahead of competitors, being able to respond to changes in requirements quickly and flexibly, all that helps us convince our business partners that we are the best possible supplier for them. Thus, modern technologies not only save our time and costs, but also help us strengthen our position on the global market.”