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Additive Manufacturing for Packaging Machines

ADCO uses selective laser sintering 3D printing to make machine parts.

Colin Warnes, ADCO's director of sales engineering and project management, shows the company's 3D printed tooling.
Colin Warnes, ADCO's director of sales engineering and project management, shows the company's 3D printed tooling.

ADCO Manufacturing showed off a range of product packaging solutions at PACK EXPO Connects. During the top load cartoning machinery demonstration, the company identified the benefits of top load which can form, pack, and close the product while just loading the carton once.  Top load systems have multiple pieces including the carton former, packaging conveyor, and then the closer to close the flap and seal the front. When done, it looks identical to horizontal or vertical end load cartoning. But a big benefit also being that the carton blanks are flat so about 50% or more blanks can fit in the same space as pre-glued end load cartoning, which saves on shipping and storage.

But the big reveal during this demonstration was ADCO’s latest innovation: 3D printed carton forming tooling. Carton forming tooling can be complicated and involves a lot of machining. “But ADCO  has been utilizing and refining 3D printed tooling to create our forming tooling fixtures for about the last year,” said Colin Warnes, ADCO’s director of sales engineering and project management.

The 3D printing used is selective laser sintering (SLS) with nylon material so it is durable and designed for a production environment. It is solid and made by laser sintering layers of powdered material into the shapes.

“The cool thing is, we can use the laser sintering process to really make whatever we want,” Warnes said. “For example, as part of the forming process we are entering the part numbers here, there are center line marks in the tooling which helps for set up, and we’ve even printed the ADCO logo onto the parts.”

In addition, the parts can be dyed any color you want so you can color code the change parts, for example, for an easy changeover process.

For more on this demo and others from ADCO  (available through March 31, 2021), and to add ADCO to your MyConnects Planner, click here.




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