Search Stories by: 
&/or
 

Maintenance, Load & Haul, Case Studies, Attachments

Articles from LOADERS (449 Articles), EXCAVATORS (427 Articles), BUCKETS & ATTACHMENTS (136 Articles)

Keech 3D business manager Doug Baird (left) and Keech Australia CEO Herbert Hermens with the largest additive manufacturing printer housed in the Keech 3D facilities.
Keech 3D business manager Doug Baird (left) and Keech Australia CEO Herbert Hermens with the largest additive manufacturing printer housed in the Keech 3D facilities.
 










How 3D printing can offer a new edge in equipment manufacturing

What is believed to be Australia’s first commercially available large format 3D printer is potentially offering the quarry industry cheaper and higher quality products in less time. Stephanie Chan reports.

After 80 years of designing and manufacturing high integrity steel casings and ground engaging tools for the quarry industry, Keech Australia launched a new subsidiary, Keech 3D, last year.

In addition to investing almost $1 million of its own funds into 3D technology, Keech was awarded a $141,700 grant from the Victorian Department of State Development, Business and Innovation in 2013. The funding allowed the company to acquire a large format 3D printer, which is based at its steel foundry and headquarters in Bendigo, Victoria.

ENHANCED CAPABILITIES

Keech first realised 3D printing could be a viable option for improving its pattern-making services four years ago, and although it was only officially launched in the middle of last year, the company’s Bendigo 3D printing facility has been operating since the start of 2014.

Through 3D printing, Keech is now able to print in a variety of new metals and alloys at a reduced cost.
Through 3D printing, Keech is now able to print in a variety of new metals and alloys at a reduced cost.

Keech Australia CEO Herbert Hermens said he wanted to launch Keech 3D only when he felt confident that “anybody with a need could come to us and we could support them with this technology”.

“We have a variety of printers available now, so it gives us enormous scope to satisfy the market,” he said.

The printing facility offers complete commercial services to customers across Australia, including product design, digital scanning, CAD (computer-aided design) modelling, post-finishing and reverse engineering.

These services work hand in hand with Keech Australia in the production of quarry equipment such as wear-resistant products and crushing parts.

“We’ve worked in a commercial capacity to identify and solve problems through reverse engineering, such as where a customer has had to replicate an obsolete part,” Hermens said. “We digitally scanned the part, had it printed in 3D and then sent it through our product innovation process to improve the design. We were then able to print 3D patterns that our foundry could use to cast steel products.”

Hermens said the business had been opened as a “service bureau” rather than another department of Keech Australia.

“Keech 3D is not just supplying product for our corporate organisation but it’s also open to the market, so people can come here to get advice from engineers, and in real time develop 3D models that can be taken and used in the field.”

When Keech 3D launched it was already capable of printing in an impressive array of materials, including steel, nylon, paper, plastic, polycarbonates and ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene). In less than a year, the company has expanded its capability and is now able to print in a variety of new metals and alloys.

“The greatest demand is for polycarbonate printing, which is used for prototyping and engineering applications,” Hermens said. “Steel printing is something that is starting to develop at a slower pace but we can see that becoming much more interesting in the short to medium term.”

Hermens said with its broad printing services, Keech 3D offered a wide range of opportunities for the quarrying industry beyond equipment manufacturing.

Keech 3D supplements Keech’s traditional casting process by quickly and efficiently developing prototypes for components.
Keech 3D supplements Keech’s traditional casting process by quickly and efficiently developing prototypes for components.

For example, “topographical printing has received a great deal of interest since [Keech 3D’s] launch, as it assists in the planning and approvals processes to ensure councils and the surrounding community are well informed”.

INNOVATING WITH PROTOTYPES

According to Hermens, 3D printing allows Keech to create product moulds faster and at a reduced cost, with production savings passed onto customers. “We can move from design to production in a third of the current time it’s taking us using the traditional methodology [about 12 months], so it’s had a massive impact on the cost structure of this company.”

Quality is not compromised. Hermens said the “additive” methodology employed by the 3D printer layered material precisely where it was needed – meaning material waste was minimised and the resulting product was often far lighter and stronger than would have been possible with traditional casting.

Hermens was particularly excited by the possibilities the technology presented for prototyping.

“3D printing allows us to take prototypes of new concepts to market before we go through the expense of cutting patterns and casting samples,” he said. “Making a sample part for the quarry industry can cost in excess of $20,000 or $30,000. Printing a product prototype probably requires only 10 per cent of that cost and allows us to keep tweaking the design so that the customer has a real input in the new generation products that we’re developing.

“I think the ability to innovate new products is probably one of 3D printing’s greatest features.”

The number of products exported from Keech Australia is continually increasing, which Hermens believes is a clear sign the company’s customers appreciate the cost savings, quality assurance and faster turnaround times afforded by additive manufacturing.

He said Keech 3D was continuing to expand through partnerships, a growing customer base and even entering new fields such as medicine.

“Since our launch, we’ve grown into one of the largest additive manufacturers in Australia,” Hermens said. “Additive manufacturing technology has had a positive impact on our work within the quarry industry and has not only allowed us to more effectively and efficiently take new cast components to market but has also assisted us in expanding our services and product offerings.

“We hope to continue to develop new, innovative ways to bring value to our customers.”










enewsletter banner 1
advertisement








Monday, 16 September, 2019 6:21am
login to my account
Username: Password:
Skyscraper 1
advertisement
Free Sign Up

Receive FREE newsletter and alerts


CONNECT WITH US
Display 1
advertisement
Skyscraper 2
advertisement