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plastic news 3D printed replacement machine partDutch 3D service bureau Visual First is using a fused deposition modeling (FDM) carbon-fiber reinforced polyamide (PA) 12 thermoplastic to replace metal machined parts for its customer, The Chocolate Factory. The 35% chopped carbon-fiber is supplied by 3D printing solutions provider Stratasys. The ability to 3D print machinery replacement parts on-demand has significantly reduced machine downtime, ensuring production line continuity for the company.

Based in Rotterdam, The Chocolate Factory runs a network of packaging machines, with the company’s daily throughput relying on the smooth operation of a simple, yet crucial, hook-shaped metal part that lifts wrapped bars onto a conveyer belt. A problem occurs when the part malfunctions – typically with such regularity that it necessitates replacement three times a month. As each replacement part is handmade, delivery can take over a month.

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