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Liniar says 3D printing is "integral" to its design process and adds new Stratasys machine

"3D printing has become an integral part of our design process. I think we’d be lost without it now."

UK-based uPVC specialist Liniar has expanded its 3D printing capacity at its plastics mixing plant in Denby to speed up its product development process.

The company produces 32,000 tonnes of material annually from its plant, the largest in Europe, to create and supply windows, doors, conservatories, decking and fencing.

No stranger to the benefits of additive manufacturing, Liniar has been using Stratasys’ Polyjet multi-material 3D printing for the last six years but recently ramped up its capabilities with the installation of a Stratasys F370, a plastic extrusion-based system which can print low-cost prototypes and durable parts using industrial-grade thermoplastics.

“3D printing has become an integral part of our design process. I think we’d be lost without it now,” said Product Design Manager Tom Roberts. “And it’s not only product development and design that we use it for. We also print jigs and fixtures for our fabrication divisions, so that means we’re not having to machine components to produce things like saw blocks or drill jigs.”

The machine, which was recently installed by SYS Systems, is said to be enabling the company to quickly produce realistic concept models and samples for its customers, with the ability to design, assemble, make changes and re-print parts all in the same day.

Roberts continued: “With the two printers we have the best of both worlds. We can print rigid material, which is useful for a lot of the extruder profiles we produce, but we also have a co-extruder gasket on our profiles.

“We design a lot of products with gaskets and sealing, so it’s been really useful that we can print both of those materials together and produce realistic components. That just wasn’t possible before without producing tooling to extrude profiles.”

In addition to prototyping and manufacturing aids, Roberts also shared how being able to quickly iterate with 3D printing has made it possible for Liniar to move to the tooling stage for new products with increased confidence.

“When we’re designing a new product suite the tooling can be into the hundreds of thousands of pounds, particularly for extrusion - it’s very expensive. So for us to have that confidence before we go cutting steel is ideal.”