Tag Archives: 3D printing

Sandvik and Boliden partner on 3D parts manufacturing project

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions has partnered with Boliden on a small-scale trial of 3D manufactured parts that, the companies say, will help both companies assess the potential of 3D printing.

Additive manufacturing – or 3D printing as it is more commonly known – is maturing fast, and has progressed from printing plastic components to now being able to print ceramics and metals.

To discover the potential of the technology, Boliden has teamed up with Sandvik to run a trial that will see machine parts printed digitally and installed on underground drill rigs.

The trial with Sandvik involves a set of specially redesigned components printed digitally at a Sandvik-managed facility in Italy, with their performance being monitored on machines in Boliden’s underground mines – first in Sweden, then in Ireland.

In theory, the 3D metal parts could perform as well – or even better – than traditionally manufactured items, the OEM said, adding that the first components have been put into operation at the Garpenberg mine in Sweden, with performance still to be evaluated.

“Additive manufacturing shows a lot of potential, both in reducing carbon footprint within the supply chain, through reduced or eliminated need for transport and storage of parts and also shorter delivery times,” Ronne Hamerslag, Head of Supply Management at Boliden, said. “This trial will give us a deeper understanding on how we can move forward and develop our business in a competitive way.”

3D printing is an exciting prospect for OEMs too, as Sandvik’s Erik Lundén, President, Parts & Services at Sandvik Mining & Rock Solutions, explains: “Mining equipment can last up to 25 years – and needs to be supported throughout that time – even in the most remote of locations. We have many different SKUs (stock keeping units) and, from an inventory point of view, we can’t tie up the capital that keeping all these parts in stock would entail. 3D printing of parts locally offers us the prospect of not only getting parts to the customer much faster, but doing so far more sustainably.”

Although in theory any part could in future be 3D printed, it is likely to be maintenance and repair operating items that are the first to get the additive manufacturing treatment, such as the bushes, brackets, drill parts, etc. that customers need to change every 3,000-4,000 hours.

But printing of the parts is only one part of the puzzle that the trial with Boliden is trying to solve.

Another is working out the future business model for 3D printed parts. Who does the printing – the OEM, the miner, or a third-party printing company? What will the costs be? What about intellectual property rights, warranties and liabilities? All these elements – and more – need to be resolved in the development of a 3D printed future.

Hamerslag concluded: “If you ask me, it’s the most exciting thing that’s happening in the supply chain. Its efficiency, speed and climate friendliness mean that we have to investigate additive manufacturing closely. We are only at the proof-of-concept stage with Sandvik right now, but it’s already clear that it could become a game-changer for the spare parts business in mining – for both miners and equipment manufacturers.”

Anglo American pursues 3D printing of spare parts with CSIR and Ivaldi Group

Anglo American has partnered with the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and US-based technology company, Ivaldi Group, to explore opportunities to digitally distribute spare parts for mining and processing equipment to be manufactured locally using 3D printing.

The project includes an analysis of Anglo American’s inventory of spare parts, such as impellers for pumps, shaft sleeves, gasket bonnet valves, and mining rock drill bits, exploring the impact of adopting a digitally distributed supply chain, and then digitising, locally producing and testing these parts at Anglo American’s operations in South Africa, Anglo said.

This partnership is the latest manifestation of Anglo American’s Collaborative Regional Development (CRD) approach to helping create “thriving communities”, as part of the company’s Sustainable Mining Plan commitments.

“Through strategic partnerships, CRD aims to create long-term economic prosperity within Anglo American’s host communities and regions beyond the expected life of a mine,” the company said. “To that end, Anglo American launched the Impact Catalyst in 2019 together with its partners the CSIR, Exxaro, Zutari, World Vision SA and the provincial government of Limpopo.”

Matthew Chadwick, Head of Socio-Economic Development and Partnerships at Anglo American, said: “Our FutureSmart Mining™ approach to sustainable mining is presenting us with new and innovative opportunities to build thriving and resilient communities, now and into the future. Through partnerships like this one with CSIR and Ivaldi, we are re-imagining long-established norms to help deliver enduring value to society.

“The ability to send files – not physical spare parts – will reduce our carbon footprint, delivery lead times and logistics costs. Importantly, this has the clear potential to create industrial and service jobs for host communities and surrounding regions through on-demand manufacturing systems to produce spare parts locally.”

Espen Sivertsen, CEO of Ivaldi, said: “We believe that digital distribution of physical goods is a natural next step for the global spare parts supply chain. It is part of the fourth industrial revolution. Working with world-leading organisations like Anglo American and the CSIR, we are now practically demonstrating that there are significant savings for businesses and a net positive impact for the environment and associated communities.”

Charl Harding, CSIR’s Business Development Manager, added: “When we first explored this opportunity to develop sustainable local on-demand manufacturing solutions we saw an immediate fit with our additive manufacturing and materials expertise. The 3D printing of parts along with the application of additive manufacturing technologies to refurbish worn parts offers the potential to create local jobs, promote innovation for the inclusive and sustainable advancement of industry and society whilst responding critical issue of climate change.”

Epiroc investing in 3D printing for on demand spare parts

Epiroc says it is introducing a project focused on the use of 3D printing capabilities for the manufacturing of spare parts.

According to Anders Johansson, Product Manager at Epiroc, working with 3D technologies will open up unlimited possibilities for the company.

One promising technology gaining momentum is additive manufacturing or a phased build-up of an object using 3D modelling and printing, Epiroc said. This has not yet been widely developed for the mining and construction industry.

“The technology of fast details production involves the manufacturing of physical samples based on CAD-data or 3D-scanning data,” Epiroc said. “This includes the use of special equipment for layer-by-layer 3D-synthesis and practically no need of further refinement.”

Earlier in 2019, Epiroc begun to explore the opportunity to implement additive technologies in the process of manufacturing spare parts; it was after high standards of quality and accuracy with this.

Johansson said: “Working with 3D technologies opens up unlimited opportunities for the company to create complex geometric shapes and maintain high quality standards.

“This technology does not only provide additional opportunities for the creation of complex parts. It also allows companies to transfer digital models around the world in minutes to manufacture spare parts right on the spot where they are needed.”

For those who use Epiroc equipment, spare parts wait time will be noticeably reduced, according to Epiroc. Consequently, equipment downtime will also decrease. In addition, the possibility of 3D printing significantly optimises the process of delivery and storage of Epiroc spare parts, which will lead to increased value for the customers, the company said.

Johansson concluded: “Thanks to the opportunities this will give, we will be able to serve our customers in new ways and, at the same time, reduce environmental impacts throughout the world, which is high on our agenda as a modern global company.”


WorleyParsons enters 3D printing JV with Aurora Labs

Australian engineering company WorleyParsons has entered a 50:50 joint venture with Aurora Labs aimed at furthering the development of 3D printing in the mining, oil & gas and major infrastructure sectors.

The JV, to be named AdditiveNow, will seek to provide a “complete additive manufacturing based engineering service” for those industries, according to Aurora.

AdditiveNow will focus on developing a service offering envisaged to include:

  • Consultation – assisting clients with additive manufacturing plans and conducting optimisation studies to improve efficiency, operability and manufacturability;
  • Engineering – providing clients with additive manufacturing related engineering services, such as parts design, bespoke metal 3D printing, parts optimisation and parts certification services;
  • Agile manufacturing (short run productions) – providing clients with parts design/analysis services through to final production and deployment of those parts, allowing for optimal part design to reduce costs and improve overall performance.

Aurora said these service offerings and the timetable for deployment will, in part, be dependent on the continued development of Aurora’s products, systems and technology.

Up until this point, Aurora has specialised in the development of 3D metal printers, powders, digital parts and their associated intellectual property.

Rio launches new Brisbane pioneer lab concept to encourage “21st Century thinking”

Rio Tinto has launched a new pioneer lab concept in Brisbane, Australia, as it encourages pilot projects to help move the company “into the 21st Century”, CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques told an audience at the IMARC event in Melbourne, Australia, today.

The head of Rio told delegates that the company sent an open invitation to “the best and the brightest in Rio to nominate a colleague (or themselves) to join the lab for 12 months”. During this time, they would be emboldened to work through these pilots.

“We will also look even more to external sparring partners as well, in the very near future,” he said.

The news from the home of Rio’s growth and innovation hub came within a wide-ranging speech where Jacques reference Lord of the Rings, Avatar, Apple’s recycling goals and automotive companies Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi.

On the digital evolution in mining, Jacques said: “I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that digital and data will be the fundamental game changer in our industry. New digital technologies from AI to the Internet of Things, and new biotech, will force us to be more imaginative.”

This ranged from drones that perform in-situ scanning, to deep-sea robots that mine underwater, to water-neutral processing that removes the need for slurry ponds, he said.

“In our view, digital and data will touch every part of the industry’s value chain. From exploration to marketing – and re-shape the way we work.

“Look at exploration: in the future, exploration innovation won’t only be about engineers and geologists but be about computer scientists and bioengineers. Even now, the huge amounts of data being collected means we can create ‘digital twins’.

“Look at mining and processing: we already have remote operations and haul trucks with connectivity so we can use predictive maintenance. And will 3D or 4D printing mean we no longer need to procure spare parts from miles and miles away. Will they be made on-site?”

On the supply chain and logistics, Jacques said the industry already had autonomous trains – its own AutoHaul system – but, maybe not far off, could be autonomous ships. “This will change the ball game on supply chain optimisation and customer intimacy.

“And lastly let’s look at marketing and trading: digital and big data will play a very big role here. And blockchain will help our customers from governments to consumers check the ethics and value of all our products. As well as their environmental credentials.

“Of course, the challenge for us all is how to apply AI and IoT in an industry where the introduction of new tech has often meant big capital outlays.

“And, clearly, we are not going to get out of bed tomorrow and become Microsoft, or another software company, that isn’t the point. The point is how do we move into the digital age in a way that means we retain a competitive advantage?”

He concluded: “The key to this is to start small, with technology and digital pilots and scale up, and also more fundamentally, adopt a brand new spirit of partnership.”