3D printing opens up a material world for workholding specialist
A bespoke workholding, precision and sub-contract machining solutions specialist has added 3D-printing technology to its operations – and says it already cannot imagine life without it.
Brown & Holmes was formally introduced to SYS Systems, a UK platinum partner for Stratasys 3D printing, at the TCT Show last year and quickly moved to secure two high-end additive manufacturing systems.
The machines – a Stratasys F170 and Fortus 450mc – have expanded the material options it is able to offer its customers, who are based across the globe in industries such as automotive, aerospace, power generation, nuclear, construction and machine tooling.
It is also allowing the Tamworth-based business to tailor its own design processes as it looks to take production to the next level.
Brown & Holmes Engineering Manager Mick Waller said: “Our customer base is looking at us now for newer and different materials beyond the conventional.
“There are over 17 materials we can print between the two Stratasys machines, which has meant that we can adopt the newer carbon fibre-type material to replace metal parts in our production solutions.
“Anything our design team can model we can print, so it’s given us opportunities to be more experimental with designs and parts that we can manufacture.”
The F170 is part of the Stratasys F123 series, which combines powerful Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) technology with intuitive GrabCAD design-to-print software to provide the most versatile and intelligent prototyping solution available.
With superior accuracy, detail and repeatability, it lets users print everything from fast, low-cost concept models to durable assemblies, confirming its reputation as the fastest and most efficient way to get products to market.
An advanced 3D production system, the Fortus 450mc uses many of the engineering-grade and high-performance thermoplastics seen in traditional manufacturing processes to create precision parts incredibly quickly.
For jigs, fixtures, factory tooling, end-use parts or functional prototypes to withstand stringent testing, the Fortus 450mc does it all.
Mr Waller added: “We bought the 3D-printing machines for our own use for manufacturing parts to put on our fixtures and solutions, but we’re quickly realising that we can offer the printing service as a separate entity to our core business.
“We’re hoping these machines become too busy and we grow our capacity to offer 3D-printed parts out to the market to new and existing customers.”
SYS Systems Sales Manager Rob Thompson said: “We work closely with our customers on production systems that perfectly match their needs, and then to ensure that they are getting the very best out of whichever solution we’ve identified together.
“Once a business discovers the benefits that 3D printing can deliver, they rarely look back. With the Fortus 450mc, for example, it is possible to produce bespoke tools and manufacturing aids much quicker than with traditional machining, using materials that are far lighter than metal but give nothing up in terms of strength and durability.
“We’re delighted to be working with such an innovative company as Brown & Holmes and look forward to helping their additive manufacturing operations flourish.”
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