Keech uses 3D Printing to cut product development time

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Industrial/mining component design and manufacturing company Keech Australia has added a 3D printing capability to its product development operations.

According to the company, it has been introduced with the intention of cutting the time taken from product conception to installation.

The 3D printing capability enables the product development team to make 3D models of custom components, using feedback collected directly from customers by Keech’s team of field engineers.

“The goal is to precisely meet the customer’s requirements first time, every time,” said Dr Bala Hebbar (pictured), General Manager – Innovation and Quality at Keech.

The use of 3D printing allows Keech to more quickly test new approaches to challenges like improving the method of attaching a component or decreasing of component weight.

“What would take us 180 days to develop in the past can now be done in 90 days, thanks to our new streamlined system, so we’ve essentially cut the development time in half,” Bala said.

“Previously, we would have had to make a 300kg steel casting of a component and we still wouldn’t know how well it would fit in with the other components in a machine until it was installed on-site. Now, with our 3D printing capability, we can get a much better feel for a product’s compatibility using a scaled down version. We are able to tell right away if it will work without having to go through the huge expense and time consuming process of making a full size casting.”

The new development process was created partly in response to demand from the mining industry, where componentry can play a major role in production efficiency.

However, the new streamlined process of information gathering and 3D printing has not come at the expense of rigorous testing – although it’s faster, the process is now more detailed than ever.

“Where once we had five or six different steps in our development process, we now have 15 steps. The goal is to produce the right product first time, so we conduct even more validation and prototype testing,” Bala said.