A few examples of 3D printing applications in the agriculture industry showed the technology can be used to create prototypes and production parts for dedicated vehicles or prototypes for drones. INFACO, a French company that fabricates electric pruning shears and other battery-powered hand tools for agriculture, shares today another example of application in this field.
The company’s in-house production environment is made up of modern manufacturing methods including AM technologies. At INFACO’s test lab, prototypes of shear casings, mounts, and covers are created with 3D printers.
“We started with the FDM technology but quickly realized that we needed more resistant pieces that had properties similar to the injection molded parts», emphasizes Valentin Vergnes, Prototyping Technician at INFACO. Especially for conducting field tests with electric shears, close to realistic material properties are crucial. INFACO therefore decided to venture into the realm of selective laser sintering (SLS) and invested into a Sintratec S2 system at the beginning of 2022”, Valentin Vergnes adds.
First introduced at formnext 2018, the industrial S2 can be expanded to fit a user’s specific needs, and integrates material preparation, 3D printing, and depowdering in a closed, semi-automatic system, consisting of the Laser Sintering Station (LSS), the Material Core Unit (MCU), and the Material Handling Station (MHS).
Vergnes said AM helps them to create complex prototypes very fast, test the designs and make changes before the pieces then go into production. While the final plastic parts are injection molded, 3D printing has become an indispensable rapid prototyping tool for the French company.
In this specific case, they utilize their Sintratec S2 SLS 3D printing for the development of their electric scissors – the F3020 –. Using the PA12 material, they prototyped all the plastic pieces of the F3020. “The mechanical properties of the PA12 material are ideal and by means of the Sintratec Polishing Station we can achieve a great surface finish”, Vergnes explains.
Once the design was thoroughly tested and adjusted, this 9th generation of INFACO founder Daniel Delmas’ invention successfully launched to the market recently.
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