Markforged, Watertown, Massachusetts, is working with Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC) and imaging product manufacturer Konica Minolta, Japan, to establish an Additive Manufacturing supply chain for Australian red meat processors, reports Food Processing magazine. This investment in AM is intended to enable processors to manufacture spare equipment on demand, meeting the need for the rapid replacement of parts in these high-volume production environments.
The collaboration will involve a three-year, multifaceted programme in which two mobile Markforked X7 polymer AM machines will be installed at Australian meat processing plants. Processing staff will be trained to use them so that the plant owners can assess whether buying a permanent unit is a worthwhile investment. These units will remain on-site for four to eight weeks before rotating to another plant, and be used to create prototypes for metal components, as well as the production non-metal parts. Konica Minolta will provide on-site support to help meat processors understand and leverage the technology.
As part of the programme, a Markforged Metal X Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) metal AM machine will be set up at Konica Minolta’s Sydney location to be used in the production of parts for industrial red meat processing. The previously made plastic prototypes from each processing location will be sent to this hub, where the designs will be metal additively manufactured, reportedly in as few as twenty-four hours. A parts database library will be established to ensure all parts are meet quality standards.
Chris Taylor, CEO, Australian Meat Processor Corporation, stated, “Meat processors rely on a multitude of equipment, with multiple components. Even a small component failure can be a costly exercise. The ability to simply print a replacement part could drastically reduce downtime and minimise the need to wait for parts, reducing the chance of supply being at risk.”
Richard Elving, Director of Sales Asia-Pacific, Markforged, commented, “We are very excited about bringing Markforged’s Digital Forge to AMPC and AMPC’s members to support maintenance, repair and operation needs. Supply chain issues can be costly and time-sensitive, and, with these tools in place, AMPC will provide a competitive advantage to its members that enables processing facilities to react quickly to solve problems right on the manufacturing floor.”
It is expected that the ability to rapidly prototype parts with AM will also enable meat processors to adjust the equipment and components they use to suit specific needs by making changes to tooling, fixtures, brackets and actuators.
“The processing sector is part of an ecosystem that performs best when all parts are optimised,” added Taylor. “Although established and dedicated for Australian red meat processors, AMPC will make the 3D printing hub available for other Australian food, agriculture and manufacturing sectors to evaluate their needs and opportunities for 3D printing within their supply chains.”