Advancements in the Mining Industry with 3D Printing

Date: July 25, 2013

As the mining industry continues to slow down in growth, mining companies have been finding a way to reduce costs and improve efficiency in operations. After evaluating its success with reducing costs and increasing efficiency in other sectors, the mining industry is advancing and is starting to embrace the benefits of 3D printing. 

Systems which are being used in the industry are capable of building parts with sizes up to 900x600x900; as well they allow users to build parts from a range of materials, some of which can withstand temperatures up to 180 degrees Celsius.

With the industry slowing down, now is the perfect opportunity to see how big of an impact 3D printing will bring to the industry and test the applications of 3D printing to reduce costs while improving productivity and quality. For now, industry professionals found a wide array of uses of this technology in the mining industry such as low volume production parts, reduced cost of tooling, R&D development, reduced product development time and cost, producing scale models of mines or plans and creating sales models. 

Traditional manufacturing used to be a slow and costly option compared to manufacturing with 3D printed parts. "We commonly see cost savings of 50-80% compared with traditional manufacturing and prototyping methods. Time savings can be even greater for parts or tools such as jigs and fixtures that are 3D printed," stated the managing director of Objective3D, a supplier of Stratasys 3D Printers, the largest 3D printing brand in the world.

In a recent trial using a Polycarbonate material on a Fortus 400 system, the user was able to print the prototype the morning the CAD design was finished rather than having the CAD data set to a toolmaker who finishes the prototype weeks later.

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