3D Printing Lightweight and Durable Robot End-of-Arm ToolingMarch 2, 2021
FreeForm Technologies, St. Marys, PA, a provider of additive-manufacturing (AM) and engineering services, has 3D-printed robotic end-of-arm (EOA) tooling for Allegheny Electric Service (AES), also in St. Marys. AES provides control-systems design and industrial-automation support to metal stampers and other manufacturers.
In this case, the application is for automotive-parts manufacturing, challenging FreeForm to develop a strong, lightweight EOA tooling attachment for a high-volume precision-inspection application with varying weight requirements. The complex part enables two tools to sit at a 90-deg. angle to each other on one arm.
To build the part, FreeForm employed the binder-jetting metal-AM process on an ExOne Innovent+ machine. Comparatively, the resulting part carried a price tag one-fourth that to print the part using direct metal laser sintering; proved more durable than carbon-fiber reinforced 3D printing; and weighs less than a machined part.
FreeForm first employed generative software to produce a lightweight design that could not be manufactured outside of 3D printing. Then, binder-jet 3D printing, of 17-4PH stainless steel, created a part measuring 4.5 by 2 by 2 in. and weighing 95 grams, at a total cost of $150. (prior to finishing).