3D printed tooling brings significant savings


For Tecalum Industrial, implementing 3D printing into its day-to-day activities resulted in a great return on investment. Not only did it significantly reduced the cost of producing customised tools, jigs, and fixtures, but the company also saved a remarkable amount of time by fabricating these parts in-house. MEPCA found out how these savings were made thanks to a Sigmax 3D printer from BCN3D.

Tecalum Industrial is based in Girona, Spain and specialises in manufacturing aluminium products for the industrial sector. To produce these parts – which it designs from scratch according to each customer’s needs – the company needs some precise jigs and fixtures, custom made for every mould it works with.

The manufacturer used to commission an external vendor to produce mechanised tooling, such as nylon clamps. However, this was an expensive and slow process, involving the need to wait weeks at a time to receive the parts. Because of this, Tecalum had been thinking about implementing additive manufacturing at its facility for quite some time. Finally, the growing number of 3D printing success stories convinced the company, and it purchased its first BCN3D Sigmax.

Today, Tecalum owns four Sigmax 3D printers, all operating non-stop to keep the production moving.

In the first year of implementing 3D printing, the company registered the cost-per-piece of every tool, jig, and fixture it 3D printed and compared it with what the cost would have been if it kept on working with its external supplier. According to the records, Tecalum saved almost €25,000 in just 12 months.


Maximising efficiency daily

“The two main advantages of using BCN3D’s printers are significant time-savings and cost reductions achieved. One of the other benefits of working with these 3D printers is their great versatility,” commented Marc Linares, Deputy Production Manager at Tecalum. Indeed, thanks to aspects like the availability of a wide range of nozzle sizes – each of them designed to offer optimal solutions to different needs – the possibilities are endless. For example, the clamps for the manufacturer’s five-axis machine are mostly printed with larger-size nozzles because they do not require a high level of detail, but they need to be sturdy to handle their daily use.

“We prefer the quickness and part hardness that the 0.8 and 1mm nozzles provide,” continued Marc.

Another important advantage Tecalum gained from additive manufacturing is maximising efficiency. As the extrusion of aluminium takes place in Canada, at its sister company Pexal Tecalum Canada, the engineers working at the Girona facility usually have around three weeks to custom-make the necessary tooling before the extrusion moulds arrive. Before implementing 3D printing, the engineers had to get the pieces right first time, as the external vendor also took around three weeks to produce the first batch of tools. However, with the Sigmax, the manufacturer can repeatedly iterate to achieve the best possible design, while still keeping the costs lower than using the external supplier.

Tecalum’s attempt to maximise efficiency with additive manufacturing has been so successful that it has also started to 3D print several tools for assembling and transporting aluminium pieces.

When it comes to materials, Tecalum has been using PLA since the very beginning. Even though nylon is thought to be more resistant, PLA serves its purpose well, and the company has never had any issues with it; proving to be ideal for its parts’ mechanical requirements.

“I couldn’t be happier. The Sigmax is a reliable printer that helps us enormously to optimise our production workflow “, concluded Marc.



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