How Saint-Gobain Increased Productivity with Markforged X7
There’s been always a common scenario for manufacturers; A simple request from a customer for design change increases hundreds of hours of labor and significant costs to change over a production line to meet the new demands.
That was the situation at a Saint-Gobain plant in North America when a client changed the shape of a weaving bobbin line, setting in motion the need for 400 new spindle adapters to hold the newly designed bobbins in place. Instead of internally machining the replacement spindle adapters, The research engineer at Saint-Gobain Research North America, Emmanuel Simadiris was charged to coming up with technology solutions that can support the various plants. Emmanuel sprung into action to see if 3D printing technology from Markforged was up to the task.
With the help of the Markforged X7 3D printer, Saint-Gobain plant was able to achieve a 100% ROI within six months. Simadiris began printing the spindle adapters using the Markforged X7 in a bid to convince the plant that 3D printing was the best solution to address the design changes.
Simadiris’s case was compelling: The traditional method of manufacturing would roughly take 1,200 hours of labor and cost $47,000 in materials. In comparison, The Markforged X7 can run 24/7 and print each adapter within three hours. The Markforged X7 3D printer was much faster in producing the adapter and would reduce the plant’s lead time by approximately 90 days and reduce costs by 86%.
Furthermore, 3D printing replacement spindle adapters on the Markforged X7 saved a significant amount of time for the machinists, which was a huge positive aspect for the plant, Simadiris said. “It opened up the machinist’s time to work on other productive tasks,” he explained.
Continuous Fiber Reinforcement
The Markforged X7 3D printer is capable of printing materials like Onyx, which is 1.4 times stronger than ABS materials, and carbon fiber reinforced nylon, as well as reinforcing material like continuous carbon fiber, Kevlar®, and fiberglass. It means that the tools and fixtures produced with the Markforged X7 3D printer are functional, economical, and strong. “The Markforged prints in terms of quality are just superior,” said Simadiris.
According to Emmanuel Simadiris, the X7’s support for continuous fiber reinforcement is what makes the difference for parts durability, effective tolerances, and the level of surface finishes for 3D printing of custom tooling, fixtures, and molds. He further said that the Saint-Gobain Research team is intent on educating other areas of its North American business about the benefits of the X7 3D printer.
Since his success with the plant, Simadiris plans to host internal webinars for senior leaders across Saint-Gobain North America to introduce Markforged technology to others. Simadiris is using the spindle adapters as the prime example — coupled with the company’s compelling ROI — and is encouraging various plant members to come and have the first-hand experience at what the Markforged X7 3D printer can do.
“The continuous fiber reinforcement opens up a wide range of new applications that were not previously accessible with the technology,” Simadiris says. “We’re going to continue encouraging the use of 3D printing within our plants.”