At its facility in Girona, Catalan company REGNER does important work. The company specializes in motion control technology, developing innovative solutions for the healthcare market—including motion control systems for electric wheelchairs—as well as the robotics, home automation and industrial equipment sectors. REGNER has relied on the use of 3D printing for its motion control system prototypes for some time, but it was only in bringing Sinterit’s SLS technology in-house that it really saw game-changing benefits.
Traditionally, the development of mechatronic systems for motion control—such as control boxes and linear actuators—takes several months. The processes of system design, prototyping, homologation and ultimately certification add up quickly. REGNER stands out in its field by offering dramatically faster turnaround times for its products, made possible by its AM-enabled agile manufacturing workflows.
Of course, time isn’t REGNER’s only consideration. It prides itself on the quality of its devices and their performance. The company’s portfolio consists of linear actuators that range in size and function—from thumb-sized actuators to heavy duty systems designed for moving loads of up to 6000 N. Notably, the company provides motion control solutions for powered wheelchairs across the globe that improve circulation for the elderly or people with serious spinal injuries. In this specific application, REGNER’s actuators enable movement and improve the level of comfort of the wheelchairs.
As part of its work, REGNER designs each actuator it makes from scratch, with dimensions and functions that fit the client’s specific needs. No matter the project, every actuator requires a housing, which protects the device’s internal components while also functioning as a gearbox and carrier. For each actuator, REGNER develops a custom housing, which must meet its stringent requirements; the quality of the housing is critical, as any friction or wear can impede the performance of the linear actuator inside and even cause failure.
It is no surprise that REGNER turned to 3D printing in the housing development process, leveraging the technology to produce prototypes within a faster timeframe. Lluís Llenas, Mechanical Design Engineer at REGNER, is responsible for the company’s prototype production and specializes in the use of 3D printing for this stage in production. In fact, Llenas undertook postgraduate studies focusing on 3D prototyping.
Over the years, Llenas and the REGNER team used a number of 3D printing solutions for prototyping, including FFF and photopolymerization. And though the company made thousands of prototypes using these technologies, it still found them lacking when it came to durability and finish. In short, the 3D printed prototypes were not high quality enough to perform reliable testing. REGNER therefore began to use an external supplier for SLS and MultiJet Fusion prototypes, which were suitable for testing and even pre-production runs.
More recently, however, REGNER has brought SLS in-house, with the acquisition of a Sinterit Lisa PRO. This has been a game-changer for the Catalan company, enabling it to produce high-quality prototypes on-demand within mere hours. According to the company, it has managed to cut its delivery times in half. More than that, Sinterit’s SLS technology has created opportunities for custom production. That is, REGNER now also uses its Lisa Pro machine to create small batches of custom production parts in record time.
“The FFF and SLA parts are a good choice to get a physical impression of the designs and to assemble rough prototypes,” said Llenas. “But when it comes to producing reliable prototypes to be verified in our fatigue tests or to send functional samples to our customers for validation, SLS is the only acceptable choice. The SLS 3D printer has updated the services we offer our customers. In the past, short runs were not an option for us. Now we can be more flexible and agile than ever before.”
Today, REGNER relies on its in-house SLS solution, which comprises the Sinterit Lisa PRO, the Sandblaster and the Powder Sieve. The Lisa PRO is an open SLS platform that boasts high quality at an accessible price point. The compact machine, which is complemented by Sinterit’s larger ecosystem of 3D printing products, has helped many companies boost their prototyping and production output, including Rawplug and Gautzsch.
This article was published in collaboration with Sinterit.