Just In Time printed parts


Imagine your local implement dealer manufacturing an emergency repair part you need at the dealership. Source: Farm and Ranch Guide

Well, it’s no longer just imagination. Jake Clark, a young entrepreneur from Fargo, explained to farmers attending a recent Commodity Classic in New Orleans, a new process called 3-dimensional printing and how it could impact the agricultural industry.

Mr Clark is co-founder of Fargo 3D Printing. He has been working with 3-dimensional printing and finding new ways this technology can be put to different uses.

Some of his experimental work has been related to agricultural uses. One way this technology can be used in agriculture is engineering, and already that is being used by most manufacturers.

Things are already being created with 3D printing to see how parts fit together in new equipment releases. It is used on mechanical parts to make sure they work and fit together properly.

Things such as injection nozzles for diesel engines are now commonly made using the 3D printing process by manufacturers.

Mr Clark noted they were approached by a group that was looking to eliminate the planter wheel and the disc opener rubbing against each other on a particular model planter.

Because of this rubbing, those parts needed to be replaced at the start of the season.

To solve the problem, they used their 3D printer to make a plastic spacer that was placed between the disc and planter wheel, and now just the much less expensive plastic piece needs to be replaced.

A second area, which Mr Clark termed material, is this technology could be employed for making parts on an emergency basis.

He used the example of a part failing during a critical period and the regular part will not be at the dealership for several days and there is a rainy period forecasted.

Using a 3D printer, the dealer could make an emergency part that same day, which would perform just like the original and would suffice until there was time to replace the part with an original equipment-manufactured one.

“This could be used as a band aid piece and keep you harvesting until the original part arrived,” Mr Clark said. “We aren’t there yet, but will be able to do this sometime in the future.”

Depending on the type of 3D printer used, a variety of materials can be used to make these parts.

One type of printer can use plastic such as a poly lactic acid, a corn-based polymer.

This type of printer can actually be compared with making multiple passes with a glue-gun type mechanism that leaves many layers.

Another type of printer uses metal to make the object using a laser as the print head keeps depositing the layers of metal. The resulting metal object can be machined and threaded like a normal piece of metal.