Graco Inc. is a company that specializes in providing technology and expertise for fluid and coatings management in various industrial and commercial applications. They develop, manufacture, and market systems and equipment for the movement, measurement, control, dispensing, and spraying of fluid and powder materials.
The challenge faced by Graco Inc. was the fabrication of prototype sheet metal brackets for a gasoline-powered motor. The production process required the use of standard sheet metal forming dies. However, the conventional methods of machining the dies internally or outsourcing the task would result in significant lead times of approximately four weeks. This posed a risk to meeting the production timeline.
To overcome this challenge, Graco engineers opted for an alternative solution. They utilized a 3D printing technique to create forming dies on an F370®CR composite printer, employing FDM® Nylon-CF10 as the printing material.
FDM® Nylon-CF10 is a carbon-filled thermoplastic material. The die set was printed in a solid structure and effectively utilized to shape the brackets from 14-gauge (0.075 in. thick) carbon steel, applying a pressure of 0.8 tons. The inclusion of chopped carbon fibers in Nylon-CF10 enhances its stiffness and rigidity, making it suitable for metal-forming operations. Additionally, the inherent smoothness of the as-printed material reduces friction on the sliding surfaces between the 3D printed tool and the formed sheet metal.
Check out the specifications of the Stratasys F370 CR here and Contact Us today for a comprehensive consultation from design-to-part production.