Drawing on our 3D printing expertise an Australian company was able to deliver prototype parts for the Hawkei Protected Mobility Vehicle in record time.
Delivering a cast prototype part within a week
The Hawkei is a light protected mobility vehicle, designed and developed in Australia by Thales.
Albins Performance Transmissions, a key supplier to Thales for the Hawkei vehicle, was asked to deliver a prototype steering pump bracket for the Hawkei within one week.
One option was to machine the part from a block of metal. However machining creates a different grain structure and material properties to a cast part so the result would not have been a true representation of a cast production design. Machining also produces significant quantities of waste material.
Creating a mould using 3D sand printing
Albins approached us to see if we could make a casting mould within two days.
Working from a digital file of the bracket, our team in Lab 22 manufactured a mould using our Voxeljet VX1000 3D sand printer over a weekend. The bracket was then cast using the mould – all within the one week deadline.
Importantly, the delivered part had the same grain structure and material properties as the production design.
Thales and Albins were very pleased with both the quality of the product and the fast turn-around time provided.
A whole new world of possibilities
Steve MacDonald, CEO of Albins Performance Transmissions, said "This was a brilliant way to shortcut the prototype process and produce a low volume prototype with the exact properties of a production part. To produce a part for validation testing using conventional methods would have cost several times more in tooling costs with a significant impact on the timeline of the project. To get a set of moulds produced so quickly was simply amazing! This has changed the way we think of new projects completely".
Alex Henderson, Mechanical Engineer at Thales, said "To receive a production intent component in this time frame has allowed us to fast track validating the design. We are now looking at using the technology for developing other Hawkei components. This technology offers significant efficiency gains for Thales when preparing Hawkei for production."
The Voxeljet VX1000 opens up a whole new world of possibilities for the foundry industry and their customers.
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