Havatec is an international supplier of grading, bunching, and handling machines for the flower-cutting industry. They brought in HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solutions and used HP 3D High Reusability (HR)1 PA 11 material to produce strong, ductile, and impact-resistant parts at faster speeds for “the Wave”: a machine that mechanically sorts and bunches flowers. Integrating 3D printed parts into Havatec’s Wave machine, allowed them to accelerate production and prevent operator errors.
A bunch of harvested delphiniums usually undergoes five steps to sort the varieties of the flowers by type, length, and color. This process was previously performed on a table, which was strenuous manual work for employees who rushed to achieve the fast production speeds that managers strove for but did not always result in uniform bunches. Technologies like SLS did not satisfy all requirements for some of the Wave parts and the materials showed wear in the early stages of production, so Havatec had to experiment with other manufacturing processes for such parts.
Havatec considered several technologies, but ultimately chose HP Multi Jet Fusion because of its ease of use, agile unpacking, and its ability to foster a better working environment (due to the closed build unit and its unpacking method) compared with other machines and technologies. They were also impressed by the robustness of the parts, which were suitable for mechanical final parts production.
Havatec engineers developed the Wave machine with more than 200 different SKU parts, which were 3D printed using HP 3D HR PA 11 material, with several copies of each SKU integrated in one machine unit. Examples of such parts include mechanical electrical sensor units and parts that comprise the alignment unit. PA11 was selected because of its enhanced elongation at break and impact resistance, properties that contribute to better machine performance. Thanks to the strength and durability of this material, Havatec’s tests validated that their parts made with this material lasted for approximately 5 million cycles.
Currently, Havatec produces approximately 5 to 10 of these machine units per year, expecting to increase production yearly. This results in an average of two to three HP MJF– produced buckets per week, including both final parts and prototypes. With each production cycle, Havatec engineers take advantage of the design freedom and experiment with new parts and mechanisms using HP Multi Jet Fusion technology, while benefitting from robust parts and a reduced lead time compared with traditional manufacturing. With the Wave machine, Havatec customers currently produce an average of 1,900 stems per hour, with a maximum of 4,000 stems, with just three employees: one at the beginning of the Wave who places the flowers on the supply belt, one at the end who collects the bunches, and a third to manage logistics.
The Havatec success story is a very good example to showcase how choosing the right material related to technology and technical requirements of the application can help to significantly improve part performance, for applications that are functional and specific to their purpose. If you want to know more about what considerations to keep in mind when selecting the right material for your 3D applications, register here for HP’s second session of the Webinar series on 12 April, 10:00 “Addressing five of 3D printing’s most important considerations for the machinery and automation industry”!