Lincoln Electric Additive Solutions is a full-service provider of large format metal parts for a wide range of industries such as power generation, oil and gas, transportation, heavy equipment, aerospace and defense.
Lincoln Electric pioneered large-scale metal 3D printing – or additive manufacturing – of prototypes, production and replacement parts, and tooling made of steel, stainless steel, Invar and nickel alloy. In fact, it is not uncommon for Lincoln Electric Additive Solutions to produce very large metal parts that measure several meters and weigh more than a ton.
Lincoln Electric: Pioneer of the latest manufacturing technologies
Lincoln Electric has always prided itself on harnessing the latest manufacturing technologies to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. That's why the company was one of the first to develop additive manufacturing technologies to produce often complex, large, high-quality parts, all in a very short time frame.
The production of additive metal parts requires an accurate evaluation of dimensions. Due to the size and complexity of Lincoln Electric's 3D printed parts, conventional quality control solutions, such as coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) and measuring arms, could not offer the speed and versatility Lincoln Electric needed.
For example, traditional measurement systems prevented technicians from measuring parts directly at the production site. "Our parts are very heavy and very large," says Mark Douglass, Business Development Manager at Lincoln Electric Additive Solutions. Minimizing the movement of parts is important to us. We knew that one MMT or one arm would not be enough. So we looked for other solutions and 3D scanning seemed to be a good fit. »
Implementing 3D Scanning in Lincoln Electric's Additive Manufacturing Workflows
To determine the dimensions and quality of 3D printed metal parts quickly and accurately, Lincoln Electric Additive Solutions turned to Creaform's 3D measurement technologies. Engineering and quality control teams generate complete 3D surface models corresponding to 3D printed parts, and compare them to the original CAD.
As Amanda Dodge, Additive Solutions Engineer at Lincoln Electric, explains, "Often we have parts with unique characteristics. 3D scans allow us to evaluate all the complex features we print and verify that all of those features are correct. »
"Production operators and engineers quickly adopted the solution. We can now measure parts in minutes," adds Douglass. As Creaform's solutions are portable, we can bring the measuring tools to the parts rather than the parts to the tool. »
Large volumes of parts: adding a MetraSCAN 3D to the 3D printing process
Lincoln Electric Additive Solutions' business grew, as did the size of its customers' parts., so the company needed a way to quickly and accurately measure large parts without having to move them to measure them. To meet this need, Lincoln Electric chose Creaform's MetraSCAN 3D – the fastest and most accurate 3D scanner and portable CMM for shop floor environments.
"What makes MetraSCAN 3D so great is that it's a contactless solution. No target required. We can check dimensional quality at any point in the production process, even during printing, when parts are too hot to touch," said Brad Barnhart, additive engineer at Lincoln Electric. 3D scanning times are significantly reduced, as technicians don't have to wait for parts to cool.
Amanda Dodge also points out that the fact that parts don't have to be cleaned before being 3D scanned is a huge time saver.
3D scanners: a huge growth driver for the company
Mark Douglass believes Creaform's 3D scanning solutions are important for Lincoln Electric's growth. "We can quickly confirm that the manufacturing quality of our 3D printed parts is excellent, and have the assurance that they meet customer specifications," he says. These solutions also contribute to our speed to market, as they provide a quick way to inspect parts. »
According to the team, additive manufacturing is growing rapidly and is important to Lincoln Electric's long-term strategy. "As we expand, Creaform's 3D scanners will continue to be an integral part of our factory processes."
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