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3D printed composite tools save Wärtsilä €100,000 in eight months

Markforged, US-based manufacturers of metal and carbon fiber 3D printers, has announced that customer Wärtsilä has made a breakthrough in deploying additive manufacturing in the marine and energy markets. 

Wärtsilä is a Finnish company with an estimated 19,000 employees, more than 200 offices and facilities in 80 countries worldwide. The enterprise posted €5.2 billion in sales for 2018. Eight months ago, Wärtsilä made the switch to 3D printed composite tools after successfully working with Markforged’s carbon fiber 3D printers. 

The company both manufacturers and provides services to marine and energy markets, sectors where engines and associated components are usually very heavy. Traditionally, custom lifting tools are forged from solid steel – a process that is time-intensive, costly and results in tools that are cumbersome both to use and transport. 

The original Wärtsilä lifting tool was machined out of solid steel and weighed 75% more than its 3D printed replacement. Photo via Markforged.
The original Wärtsilä lifting tool was machined out of solid steel and weighed 75% more than its 3D printed replacement. Photo via Markforged.

Wärtsilä engineers used the Markforged Industrial Series X7 3D printer to create a tool capable of lifting the piston and cylinder of a Wärtsilä 26 engine with a working load of 240kg. Markforged said, “The resulting new continuous carbon fiber part was 75% lighter than the original steel version.”

The 3D printed lifted tool developed by Wärtsilä has been tested to a 960kg lifting capacity.

The Markforged 3D printed tool is capable of lifting up to 960kg with a safety factor of four. Photo via Markforged.
The Markforged 3D printed tool is capable of lifting up to 960kg with a safety factor of four. Photo via Markforged.

Giuseppe Saragò, Director, Manufacturing Excellence at Wärtsilä, said “Additive manufacturing opens up new possibilities for both our manufacturing and servicing operations with tool creation that is faster, less costly, and safe. It also reduces the need for stock and allows just-in-time production processes,”

“This is an outstanding example of Wärtsilä’s smart approach to manufacturing technologies and shows the potential that new technology can have to optimize our operations. We are always evaluating other 3D printed applications, and have already seen plenty of benefits across our production floor.”

Prior to the introduction of 3D printing, Wärtsilä would rely on third-party suppliers to manufacturer lifting tools. Juho Raukola Innovation Expert (Additive Manufacturing) at Wärtsilä, added, “The potential to cut costs is really significant. If you’re going to save at least 1,000 Euros per tool, it’s a straight benefit.” The lifting tool has also been independently tested by international certification agency Bureau Veritas who has granted Type Approval CE-certification.

A case study published by Markforged provides further details. 

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Featured image shows the Markforged X7 industrial 3D printer. Photo via Markforged. 

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