HANNOVER MESSE 2019, 01 - 05 April
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Production arrives in a 3D printing container

EU project CassaMobile demonstrates what 3D printing can achieve in practical terms: the project’s partners have fitted a complete mini-factory into a container, allowing necessary products to be manufactured quickly and near to customers.

18 Jul. 2018
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Production arrives in a 3D printing container (Photo: Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnik und Automatisierung IPA)

The name CassaMobile derives from Italian and already hints at the fact that a container is involved. Unremarkable from the outside, on the inside it holds as its core a 3D printer that scientists from the consortium-leading Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA) developed themselves. A camera monitors the printing process so that action can be taken swiftly in the event of any errors. The portable factory’s equipment also includes a milling module, a cleaning system and air filter units.

What are the advantages for businesses? First of all more flexibility, because the container can be transported from A to B without a road escort. They also no longer need to build factories in multiple locations. Instead they can start up production where it is needed, with the destination only requiring electricity, water and compressed air to be available. Perhaps the most important factor, however, is the reduction in lead times. Not only can this provide a competitive edge, but it can also bring social benefits. One example is bone-drilling templates for the medical technology field, which are often required in the case of complicated fractures and only manufactured at a few locations. This has previously made the lead time up to a week – and not all surgeons are able or willing to wait so long.

The idea of a mobile factory is not a new one. The Schlemmer Group developed a “manufacturing on wheels” concept and put it into practice back in 2010. According to the company, the truck is production-ready in two to three hours. This allows up to 3,000 different products to be manufactured in situ.