VHM Fonderie (formerly Heinrich Fonderie) specializes in the production of industrial iron castings using a traditional sand casting process. To help the company with the production of functional prototypes, master models for sand casting, manufacturing tools, as well as the 3D printing of spare parts, VHM Fonderie turned to Stratasys. The 3D printing and additive manufacturing company provided VHM with its Connex Multi-material 3D Printer to tackle the job.
For complex sand casting applications in particular, VHM is using an advanced simulated polypropylene material, Rigur, to produce 3D printed models that are subsequently used to make sand molds.
“To manufacture an object using the sand casting process, we need to first produce a master model of the specific part,” said Laurent Poux, Industrial Director, VHM Group. “This is then used to make a mold, from which the desired object itself is then manufactured. In the context of the end-to-end manufacturing workflow, the level of time-saving enjoyed with 3D printing isn’t merely improvement or progression – it’s transformational.”
VHM Fonderie reduced product development time for the castings it manufactures. According to Poux, 3D printed molds are just one application in which the Connex 3D Printer is deployed. Another use is in the production of various tooling items, such as positioning jigs used across the assembly line to increase efficiency. The 3D printer has also helped replace obsolete parts for tooling machines.
3D printing has given VHM a level of self-reliance that has changed the capabilities of its traditional production processes and increased its manufacturing flexibility. The company is now able to extend the benefits of 3D printing to customers through Reali3D, where they expect to produce everything from concept models and fully functional prototypes, to assembly tools for the production line.
“VHM Fonderie is just one example of how a growing number of manufacturers are not merely exploring the use of 3D printing in a limited capacity, but are reaping multiple benefits through its widespread integration across all areas of production,” says Andy Middleton, President, Stratasys, EMEA.