Sandvik teams up with Boliden for a 3D printing trial
Proof of concept
The trial with Sandvik involves a set of specially redesigned components digitally printed at a Sandvik-run factory in Italy, with their performance checked on machines at Boliden’s underground mining workings – first in Sweden, then in Ireland. At least in theory, 3D metal parts could work just as well – or even better – than traditionally made items. The first components have just been commissioned in the Garpenberg mine, the performance of which remains to be assessed.
“Additive manufacturing has great potential, both in terms of reducing the carbon footprint within the supply chain, through the reduction or elimination of the need for transporting and storing parts, as well as only to shorter lead times. This trial will give us a better understanding of how we can move forward and grow our business competitively.” says Ronne Hamerslag, head of supply management at Boliden.
Local manufacturing is “the future”
3D printing is also an exciting prospect for OEMs, as Erik Lundén, Sandvik President, Parts and 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 locations. We have many different SKUs (stock keeping units) and, from inventory perspective, we can’t tie the capital increase that keeping all of these parts in stock would be involved in. 3D printing parts locally gives us the prospect of not only getting parts to the customer much faster, but also to do it in a much more sustainable way.”
Although in theory any part could in the future be 3D printed, it is probably the maintenance and repair elements that are the first to undergo the additive manufacturing treatment, such as bushings, supports, drilling parts, etc. that customers need to change. every 3000 to 4000 hours. But the printing of the parts is only part of the puzzle that the trial with Boliden tries to solve. Another is working on the future business model of 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 of these things – and more – need to be resolved in the development of a 3D printed future.
Game changer for the aftermarket industry
“If you ask me, this is the most exciting thing that happens in the supply chain”, says Boliden’s Hamerslag. “Its efficiency, speed and climate friendliness mean we need to look closely at additive manufacturing. We are only at the proof of concept stage with Sandvik at the moment, but it is already clear that this could be a game changer for spare parts. in mining – both for miners and equipment manufacturers. »
Sandvik is a global high-tech engineering group that provides products and services that improve the productivity, profitability and safety of its customers. We hold world leading positions in selected areas – tools and tooling systems for metal cutting; equipment and tools, services and technical solutions for the mining industry and rock excavation in the construction industry; products in advanced stainless steels and special alloys as well as products for industrial heating. In 2021, the Group had around 44,000 employees and a turnover of around SEK 99 billion in around 150 countries.
Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions
Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions is a business unit of the Sandvik Group and one of the world’s leading suppliers of equipment and tools, parts, services, digital solutions and technologies supporting sustainability for the mining and construction. Areas of application include rock drilling, rock cutting, loading and transporting, tunneling and quarrying. In 2021, sales were around SEK 41.4 billion with around 15,500 employees.
Source and top image: Sandvik