Thermal Dynamics, one of the world’s largest suppliers of manual and automated advanced plasma-cutting equipment knows plasma cutting uses considerable electrical power and generates a lot of heat to power supplies. To safeguard its electronic equipment, a special thermal-interface material, which transfers heat, is applied using hand-held air-powered pumps, commonly called “goo guns.”
Unfortunately, each time the heavy guns are used, a small amount of expensive material is lost. While several makeshift fixtures were built, they never thoroughly solved the problem.
New use for purchased FDM system
Company engineers, who were using a newly purchased FDM-based Fortus 3D Production System for rapid prototying of injection molded parts, soon realized its additional potential for direct digital manufacturing, or low-volume manufacturing. Manufacturing Engineer, Jill Markowski, designed a fixture to make the guns easily accessible and capture leaking material and R&D Engineering Associate, Matthew Colpitts, suggested using thermoplastic instead of metal.
Colpitts estimated it would take at least $2,000 and one week to build the fixture conventionally; however, using FDM and polycarbonate the job took just 17 hours and $340. Expectations were to have the machine pay for itself in one year. “But it actually paid for itself in only seven months,” noted Colpitts. Learn more.