Merit3D completes order of 1 million 3D printed parts
"Protoduction" initiative delivers extra large batches of hanger components for Adhesive Technology's epoxy tubes
Merit3D, an additive mass production company based in rural Utah, is leveraging high-speed LCD technology and Magna 3D printers from Photocentric to spearhead a groundbreaking approach to mass production that promises to reshape traditional manufacturing practices. The company has achieved remarkable milestones, including one of the largest single 3D print orders to date, with the first order of parts for Adhesive Technologies exceeding 1 million pieces.
In this remarkable collaboration, the leading supplier of epoxy products was facing supply chain challenges and partnered with Merit3D after hearing of their prowess in mass-producing parts using additive manufacturing. Adhesive Technology sought a solution for hanger production, specifically for their epoxy tubes. A hanger for epoxy products is a device or component used to attach the mixing nozzle to the epoxy tube. With products distributed across major retail stores, their supply chain issues demanded an innovative approach.
Merit3D wasted no time in designing and rigorously testing parts on their cutting-edge Photocentric Magna printers. The team successfully qualified a groundbreaking material, EPD 1006, developed in collaboration with BASF. This material, akin to Polypropylene used in various consumer goods, is efficiently printed on the Magna printers. Within weeks, Merit3D achieved a remarkable feat – producing and delivering an astounding 40,000 parts per week to Adhesive Technology.
Spencer Loveless, CEO of Merit3D, hailed the project as a significant step towards reshoring efforts and fortifying America’s manufacturing sector. “Manufacturing is undergoing a digital revolution, with companies – both large and small – embracing additive manufacturing,” said Loveless. He highlighted the increasing trend of utilizing 3D printers for prototyping, which, with advancing technologies and declining equipment costs, has transformed additive manufacturing into a viable mass production option. Merit3D further coined the term “Protoduction” to encapsulate the seamless transition from prototype to final production, boasting identical quality and materials.
Blake Merrell, Co-founder and COO of Merit3D, echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the awe-inspiring potential of this process. “It’s amazing how fast a company can now go from prototyping to mass production.”
The hanger, a pivotal component attaching the mixing nozzle for epoxy applications to the epoxy tube, showcases the true power of additive manufacturing. While injection molding could have efficiently manufactured this part, additive manufacturing provides unmatched design agility and continuous improvement capabilities. As a result, the hanger design has evolved to become more versatile and universally compatible with various mixing nozzles.
Among the key highlights of the collaborations, the product moved from design to production in 2 weeks. The client was thus able to re-shore production, bypassing the use of molds made overseas. The 3D printed product exceeds the durability of HPDE equivalent. While it was originally conceptualized for the initial batch of 30,000 pieces, design enhancements were implemented at the 100,000 mark to optimize cost and functionality. Merit3D is now printing 40,000 of this part per week.
The next design improvement, scheduled for 500,000 units, aims to further enhance versatility and meet customer needs. Additive manufacturing empowers companies with limitless design iterations and improvements, eliminating the need for costly and challenging mold adjustments.
The realization of this groundbreaking achievement owes much to several key factors including Merit3D’s well-known and unwavering commitment to revitalizing American manufacturing through additive manufacturing. Furthermore, the remarkable advancements in technology, notably the Photocentric Magna printers, seamlessly handled the substantial volumes of parts produced each day. In this pursuit, Merit3D received crucial support from the Utah Manufacturers Modernization Grant, which facilitated the acquisition of automation equipment, including cost-reducing robotic systems. Additionally, BASF’s contribution was instrumental in co-developing a tough and cost-effective material, propelling the project to new heights.
Located in Carbon County, Utah, a region that has weathered economic downturns tied to its coal-centric industry, Merit3D’s breakthrough serves as a beacon of hope. As coal mines and coal-fired power plants face closures, economists, government leaders, and businesses are proactively planning to counter the resulting job losses by creating over 1,750 new positions.