“Just ordering prototype investment castings like from the big online mail order companies: that was our goal,” explains Rainer Bühler, responsible for the sales activities of the BLANK-Group. This ambition has now been realized with the help of an online calculator for prototypes. "Market requirements are dynamic and it is important for us to offer our customers a fast availability of investment casting solutions, which the integration of the calculator now makes possible."
Online prototypes vs. series production
Project manager Dominik Roth, head of the technology center at BLANK, developed the reliable calculation for this, "It is important to distinguish between the serial production of castings and the creation of prototypes with the help of the calculator." Because while an aluminum tool is used to produce the serial wax blanks for series production, a 3D printer explicitly takes over this important part in the manufacturing process of the wax blanks for prototype production through the new online calculator. The subsequent production steps are then identical again, even if they are realized on different systems. "This hybrid casting, as we call it at BLANK, especially saves time and, depending on the requirements of the prototype, also costs," explains Dominik Roth, "Working with an external platform service provider also eliminates time-consuming and expensive test certificates as well as other prototype requirements, which accelerates the handling considerably.”
A big advantage: extreme closeness to series
The calculator is especially interesting for customers who need a quick test investment casting part for a later end application and who want to test this component under the conditions that will prevail later. “Contrary to metal printing or a prototype milled from solid material, a cast prototype is identical to the later series part regarding material variety, quality and load capacity,” says Bühler, “This offers the customer enormous planning and development security within only a short time, because the delivery time for investment casting prototypes is only 23 working days.”
Cast as fast as printed!
Within just 23 working days, the customer receives an investment casting prototype that is identical to investment castings from series production. Beside the production of prototypes, the online calculator can also be used to produce spare parts, components and production aids in small and medium-sized series without any problems. The conceivable fields of application are manifold!
Functionality of the calculator – binding price in a few clicks!
After registering on the platform, upload a 3D print file and select the desired process, the desired material (parts up to approx. 1 kg*) and the required number of pieces. The calculator then immediately outputs the corresponding price and delivery time. The order is placed simply with a further click.
* The BLANK-Group provides individual consultations to ensure that a component is suitable for the process.
Conventional prototype production
“BLANK, of course, continues to offer conventional prototyping which is often used for large projects,” emphasizes Bühler, “This differs from the calculator in the provision of comprehensive documentation which is required for the subsequent start of series projects. However, the calculator makes us more flexible and enables fast, uncomplicated prototyping solutions in many areas and industries."
Scope of services
Various materials can be selected in the calculator, including heat-resistant and stainless steels suitable for hot gas areas. In addition to metals, the following material groups are also selectable through the supplier network: plaster, plastic (also fiber-reinforced), quartz sand and silicone. In total the calculator offers 13 technologies and over 100 materials for 3D printing.
Areas of application
From classic mechanical and plant engineering to medical technology and automation: many areas of application for prototypes are possible. "Our core competence is comprehensive consulting, so, of course, we are always at our customers’ disposal if they have any questions about this," emphasizes Dominik Roth.