KS Composites is a leading independent manufacturer of composite and GRP products, including pattern work and tooling. Since its establishment in 1985, KS Composites has continually evolved to become a leading global force in composite and GRP development and manufacturing. It seeks new technologies and solutions to ensure consistent, dynamic improvements to match the R&D developments.
Their unparalleled commitment to quality, consistency and delivery of value-added solutions, has led to working with some of the most demanding clients in the automotive industry.
This high-pressured and immediate industry demands production of parts and manufacturing aids at a rapid rate, so KS Composites sought out the best available technology to fulfil these requirements in-house.
The experts at SYS Systems, guided and supported KS Composites to invest in two Stratasys Fortus 450 3D printing machines.
As a leading global force in composite and GRP development and manufacturing, KS Composites is dedicated to innovation and matching industry standard research and development.
Working in the motorsport sector is, by nature, fast-paced and reactive. With high demands from many Formula 1 teams and car manufacturers, KS Composites needed solutions that could produce parts and manufacturing aids rapidly.
KS Composites made the decision to switch from outsourcing their 3D printing to bringing it in-house.
Their strong reputation in the motorsport sector and determination to stay ahead in the market has led them to SYS Systems and Stratasys, world leaders in 3D printing.
Jamie Smith, Managing Director, said: “We did a bit of research and SYS Systems cropped up, we had great dialogue with them from day one and they made the transition from outsourcing to bringing it in-house really simple for us.”
Initially, KS Composites invested in a Stratasys Fortus 450 3D printer.
The Fortus 450 has a large build volume and uses high-strength polymers, perfect for the automotive industry.
That machine quickly reached full capacity as KS Composites discovered the full benefits of 3D printing on the shopfloor. They then invested in another Fortus 450, utilising both machines to full capacity.
“We have seen the benefits and when we implemented the second machine we did everything in two weeks,” said Jamie.
Matt Parker, Head of Engineering, said: “We looked at Stratasys 3D printers because they are industry leaders and it was the obvious choice.”
The Fortus 450 machines have made additive manufacturing an integral part of KS Composites operations.
“We are integrating additive manufacturing into the subtractive CNC world, so we will integrate those two departments instead of having additive as a niche department on the side, incorporating it into our day-to-day lives and processes and it has now become as important as CNC machining to what we do here.”
The reliability and variety provided by the Fortus 450 has already benefited KS Composites, reducing their lead time and expanding their production capabilities.
Dan Johnston, CNC Business Development Manager, said: “The printers themselves are fantastic. When you look at the reliability, we know we’re getting repeatable results. We can come up with a solution in a lot shorter lead time, so when we’re dealing with these quick turnaround clients and they need their parts, we know 3D printing gives us a robust solution to that.”
Initially, KS Composites focussed the additive machines technology on soluble cores but following their purchase of the second Fortus 450, they also installed ULTEM 1010 and Nylon 12 fibre materials to expand their capabilities.
The integration of these technologies has elevated the role of the Fortus 450 within KS Composites, taking on the workload to print the jigs and fixtures, enabling the CNC machines to be free for tooling production.
Matt said: “The amount of programming and time to CNC machine would be many hours, whereas with the Fortus 450’s it takes several minutes. It can then be printed overnight on an unmanned machine without having to worry about multiple set ups.”
“In terms of the actual cost of a finished jig, we would be looking at about an 80% cost saving.”
The range of applications and materials offered by the Fortus 450 has allowed KS Composites to begin expanding their scope for future projects.
Dan said: “We were already offering a whole multitude of services in-house. 3D printing complements all of those services, but it has also opened up different avenues that weren’t there previously.”
Why SYS Systems and Stratasys?
The benefits of 3D printing have been endless for KS Composites, as they are not only able to save time but they are able to save money in resources and part costs.
“The 3D printers we’ve got have exceeded our expectations,” said Jamie.