The machines – a Stratasys F170 and Fortus 450mc – have expanded the material options that Brown & Holmes is able to offer its customers. Furthermore, the investment is allowing the Tamworth-based business to tailor its own design processes as it looks to take production to the next level.
Mick Waller, engineering manager at Brown & Holmes, says: “Our customer base is looking at us for newer and different materials beyond the conventional. There are over 17 materials we can print between the two Stratasys machines, which has meant that we can adopt newer carbon fibre-type materials to replace metal parts in our production solutions. Anything our design team can model, we can print, so it’s given us opportunities to be more experimental with designs and the parts that we manufacture.”
The F170 is part of the Stratasys F123 series, which combines fused-deposition modelling (FDM) technology with GrabCAD design-to-print software.
A 3D production system, the Fortus 450mc uses many of the engineering-grade and high-performance thermoplastics seen in traditional manufacturing processes to quickly create precision parts. For jigs, fixtures, factory tooling, end-use parts or functional prototypes to withstand stringent testing, the Fortus 450mc can accommodate them all.
Waller says: “We bought the 3D-printing machines for our own use – for manufacturing parts to put on our fixtures and solutions – but we’re quickly realising that we can offer the printing service as a separate entity to our core business. We’re hoping these machines become too busy and we grow our capacity to offer 3D-printed parts out to the market.”
Rob Thompson, sales manager at SYS Systems, says: “We work closely with our customers on production systems that match their needs, and then ensure that they get the best out of whichever solution we’ve identified together. Once a business discovers the benefits that 3D printing can deliver, they rarely look back. With the Fortus 450mc, for example, it is possible to produce bespoke tools and manufacturing aids much quicker than with traditional machining, using materials that are far lighter than metal but give nothing up in terms of strength and durability. We’re delighted to be working with such an innovative company as Brown & Holmes, and look forward to helping their additive manufacturing operations flourish.”