Ledcor teams up with Tempus 3D printing to alleviate supply chain issues, improve part design and minimize manufacturing time.
Ledcor is North American construction company which was having trouble finding replacements for ball valves used in applying calcium chloride to road surfaces for dust control and other purposes. After making exhaustive attempts to source new valves through their traditional suppliers they were faced with a six month or greater lead-time for delivery.
Ledcor approached Tempus for a solution, with the explicit need to get a functioning ball valve in their hands within four weeks. They also wanted to take the opportunity to improve the design of the valve to address historical weak points and improve functionality. The main weak point had been the seam in the parts from where the two injection molded parts had fit together. This seam was prone to holding water and then freezing during the cold Canadian winters, which resulted in the parts cracking and no longer holding a seal.
The team at Tempus 3D collaborated with their partners at the Selkirk Technology Access Centre (STAC) part of Selkirk Innovates team (www.selkirk.ca/innovates) to re-design the part and manufacture the final product within the specified timeline and deliverables. The original valve was scanned with a Creaform HandySCAN 3D scanner to determine the critical dimensions, and the part was redesigned to improve it’s function and address critical failure points.
A prototype of the valve casing was 3D printed and tested for fit and function. After additional design changes, the final product was manufactured using an HP Multi Jet Fusion 5200 3D printer for it’s dimensional accuracy and quality. Nylon PA 12 was selected as the material for its overall durability and resistance to water, chemicals and UV rays.
Once printing was complete was sealed with AMT Post Pro vapour smoothing technology to improve water and chemical resistance. Finally, due to the tight dimensional requirements and fit, the low-tolerance surfaces of the valve were machined to ensure exact compliance with the client specifications.
This whole process was completed in less than four weeks, and future parts could be manufactured and delivered in less than two weeks. The cost savings to Ledcor were significant, both in terms of saved downtime and overall cost of manufacturing in comparison to the alternative options of injection molding or CNC machining.
Ledcor and Tempus continue to look for ways to integrate 3D printing into their operations to reduce their supply chain risk and improve part functionality and quality. With Tempus’ location in the interior of British Columbia, it is uniquely capable of serving markets across Western Canada with cost-effective overnight shipping and the ability to turn around rush orders in as little as 36 hours. We at Tempus feel this is just the beginning of what manufacturing will look like in the future; it will be more responsive, more custom, and more local allowing innovators across sectors to bring products to market quicker and in a more environmentally friendly way.
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