The sweet spot.
The Chocolate Factory’s complex packaging machines rely on the smooth operation of a simple, yet crucial, hook-shaped metal part that lifts wrapped chocolate bars onto a conveyer belt. Due to varying product sizes, the machines require regular adjustments, posing two challenges. First, if the hook-shaped part is fed into the machine incorrectly, it jams and requires immediate replacement. Second, the constant need for human intervention and maneuvering of metal parts results in damage to the machine.
Carbon-fiber 3D printed thermoplastic replaces metal production part.
Produced on the Stratasys Fortus 450mc 3D printer, the final 3D printed part’s high stiffness-to-weight ratio and extreme rigidity was exactly what The Chocolate Factory needed. “The success of the part was instantly clear; the material is impossible to bend,” van de Rijzen said. “The part withstood all tests on the machine and multiple runs were completed without incident. The factory increased production throughput by replacing the metal machine part with our 3D printed version.”
Time and cost efficiencies.
With machines requiring high levels of customization, the need for advanced material capabilities was
not van de Rijzen’s only concern. The existing metal part was malfunctioning with such regularity it
necessitated replacement three times a month. Given each part must be handmade using traditional
means, replacing these via suppliers took over a month, a time frame that posed a huge problem for the
“Considering the essential role of this part, it is crucial that a spare part is available on demand to ensure the packaging machine is always operational,” said van de Rijzen. “With the Stratasys Fortus 450mc, we have a rapid, high-throughput solution that delivers highly accurate and repeatable results.
As a result, the downtime on these parts is dramatically reduced. The Chocolate Factory can now have replacement parts manufactured and delivered in under a week, which is instrumental to its business continuity.” The switch to 3D printed replacement parts resulted in significant economic benefits too, saving 60% on the part. “The ability to optimize the design with our 3D printer has improved the actual functionality of the part on the machine,” van de Rijzen added.