Additive Manufacturing has the power to positively impact every aspect in a manufacturing industry, by solving complex production challenges. In this article, we will explore how Atlas Copco saw the benefits of using AM in their industry and use this technique to develop the next generation prototypes of clamping bushes, together with AMEXCI. Therefore, we would like to bring you on-board from the beginning of the clamping bush AM journey, to demonstrate how the engineering of a conventional clamping bush could utilize the benefits of AM. This article will therefore cover everything from why the initial idea was raised, to the final delivery, hopefully inspiring you, to find, and realize your own success cases.

Case Background

Atlas Copco is a leading global industrial company based in Stockholm, Sweden. Through their market-leading compressors, vacuum solutions, generators, pumps, power tools and assembly systems, they are pioneers and technology drivers – empowering their customers to grow and drive society forward.

Gas and process compressors supply large amounts of air or gas for processes across many industries
Atlas Copco’s GHS VSD+ vacuum pump at a customer site.

As such, Atlas Copco chose to explore the possibilities to modernize the manufacturing of a traditional clamping bush through the Additive Manufacturing technology Laser Powder Bed Fusion (L-PBF).

The initial request for an alternative manufacturing method was raised by service engineers from Atlas Copco’s workshop. They realized that the lead times for spare clamping bushes was too long, often exceeding 5 months. To manufacture the clamping bush in a conventional way, two cylindrical parts had to be welded together, creating an internal chamber. The main challenges with the conventional manufacturing method were not only related to long lead-times, and multiple manufacturing operations, but also the high price. Therefore, it was decided to search for an alternative manufacturing method.

Additive Manufacturing – providing a solution

The engineering team at Atlas Copco saw the possibility to use Additive Manufacturing to produce the clamping bush in a faster and more competitive way. Therefore, Atlas Copco’s design engineers joined forces with AMEXCI, and together recognized the potential for improved and integrated functionality.

This close collaboration between AMEXCI and Atlas Copco did not only result in a faster and more competitive way of producing the clamping bush, but also a more sustainable way. With the design freedom of AM, the design of the clamping bush could be tailored to meet the required mechanical properties, only adding material where it is necessary. In that way, not only saving resources, but also saving costs, due to shorter build time.

A successful result

AM was not only beneficial to save resources and cut lead times, but it also drastically simplified the way the part was manufactured, while improving functionality. 

To highlight a few benefits: 

  • Functional integration: The printed part was built as one component, thus avoiding multiple assembly operations– as was the case for the conventionally produced bushing.
  • Weight reduction: Throughout the printing process of the part, less material was used with AM compared to the conventional manufacturing method, thus reducing the weight with approximately 60%. Therefore, the part had its weight reduced, maintaining functionality, where needed the most.
  •  Supply-chain optimization: Additive Manufacturing supports buyers in spending less time on setting up their supply-chain. As there are AM companies, like AMEXCI, who provide customers with every AM service from design to post-processing of the final part, the customer skips working with a lot of suppliers and partners, thus optimizing their supply-chain. 
  • Faster product development: By significantly speeding up the process from initial design to printed prototype, multiple iterations can be tested and verified in a short time span, helping  reach the final part in 6 weeks instead of more than 6 months. 

We believe that AM is the manufacturing method of not only of tomorrow, but already today, offering numerous benefits compared to conventional manufacturing in multiple aspects as we have seen above. This is just a small example of AM technologies solving complex manufacturing challenges. If you are curious to find out more about this technique and see how you can apply it in your business case, do not hesitate and contact us!  

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