3D printed parts soon available for food factories

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Food manufacturers could soon call on 3D printing services to quickly replace broken parts. Image: Addition Design
Food manufacturers could soon call on 3D printing services to quickly replace broken parts. Image: Addition Design

Related tags factory design & Maintenance

Food manufacturers could soon be able to embrace on demand 3D printing to replace broken parts on the production line, thanks to new technology developed by industrial 3D printing firm Addition Design.

An extension of the company’s ‘AddParts’ service, food manufacturers will be able to order digital spares for automated production lines through the use of 3D scanning, digital data management and 3D printing.

Manufacturers can identify which part has broken and order a replacement based off the data supplied to Addition Design without the need to replace the entire line, cutting down on downtime in the process.

Restriction for the food industry

As Tom Fripp – director at Addition Design – explains, the industry standard of using blue plastic for parts of the line that are in contact with food has made the use of 3D printed replacement parts prohibitively expensive for food and drink business operators.

“When it comes to 3D printing, this requirement has acted as a barrier for the food industry, as there are very few ways to make cost-effective, high-quality certified, blue, food contact parts using industrial 3D printing processes,”​ said Fripp.

“Most approaches require the material itself to be blue which is an issue. It means the whole material stock then needs to be that colour, making the process often prohibitively expensive.”

However, this new process being developed by Addition Design aims to bring the food sector in line with the rest of the manufacturing industry which has already embraced the use of industrial 3D printing to quickly replace broken parts on the line.

On demand parts for manufacturers

“The particular process we have developed means that we can produce parts on demand for manufacturers, using our Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) machine and then post-process them in a way that means they still meet food contact requirements,”​ Fripp continued.

“Under our AddParts service, all the components are supplied with certification of conformity and traceability and now this is available for on-demand, hard-to-source and legacy components for food manufacturing too.

“The food and drinks industry is one of the largest sectors in UK manufacturing and our AddParts service compliments the industry perfectly but traditionally we’ve struggled to supply components into it because of the specific requirements for low cost, fast turnaround, durable, blue, food contact components. But now we can.”

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