Sandvik Looks to Utilize 3-D Printing in Mining Equipment
As 3-D printing continues to skyrocket in popularity, appealing to numerous industries around the world, one mining equipment manufacturer is putting the technology to use.
Sandvik, the world’s largest maker of metal-cutting tools, announced it will boost research spending on 3-D printing to expand capabilities in a market that is expected to grow to $21 billion in the next 10-years.
From mining drill rigs to fuel tubes for nuclear power plants, Sandvik will evaluate the technology through various initiatives to observe how the technology can be used in its production. Sandvik is opening a new 3-D printing research and development center in Sandviken, Sweden and is preparing to hire a team for the center.
“We’re taking this to another level,” Schuisky said. “We’re making a focused strategic push to research this for the benefit of the entire group.”
Somewhat similar to additive manufacturing, 3-D printing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. The process enables faster production, increased flexibility and the ability to shape otherwise impossible designs from standard methods.
’’What is attractive about 3-D is the new way of thinking,’’ Schuisky said. ’’We are used to thinking that objects are processed out of a material. We need to start thinking about starting from a blank canvas.’’
While the implementation of 3-D printing sounds exciting, there are still question that need to be answered. Case in point: production times.
“You can punch out objects so much faster using those traditional technologies. And I don’t see that changing,” IDTechEx Director Jon Harrop told Bloomberg. ’’I only see it really having an effect on small, high-value components.’’
Still, the case for 3-D printing in the mining industry is compelling. Because most mining operations are located in remote areas, companies would be able to make their own parts on site in a fraction of the time it takes to get parts sent in.
“It’s like Batman’s utility belt, to get through his day he needs to be able call on a number of different technologies or a number of different tools,” says mechanical engineer, Simon Bartlett.
“I think it’s definitely a new tool and people are now just trying to work out how it fits in to what they do.”
Axora launches global challenge for digital technology
Axora is launching the world’s first international competition to discover new cost-saving digital technology for industrial companies, which can produce rapid benefits within a year.
The Metals & Mining and Oil & Gas sectors have recently experienced budget cuts of 20% on average, driven by a variety of factors including the global pandemic, slump in demand and price wars. The Axora Cost-Saving Technology Challenge aims to transform these industries by discovering innovative, digital solutions that reduce cost fast and pay for themselves, whilst achieving the same or improved productivity, health and safety and sustainability standards.
“While digital solutions can help to get work done quicker and more cost-effectively, they typically require a three-year ROI, and if there’s no flexibility in the budget, a full budget planning cycle is needed to get things moving”, said Dr. Nick Mayhew, Chief Commercial Officer, Axora.
“Yet, extra financial cost is often incurred in delaying digital projects, so customers have asked us to highlight solutions that can have an ‘in year payback’ whereby the cost spent on the solution and deployment will be more than recovered within the budget year - this accelerates the timeline and drives positive business impact, quickly.”
The Axora Cost-Saving Technology Challenge
Axora is keen to learn of any digital cost-saving innovation which: meets the 12-month payback timeframe; can be deployed in any part of the value chain including upstream, downstream or midstream oil and gas, metals processing or mining; and is ready for market. The Axora Cost-Saving Technology Challenge is open to entrepreneurs, start-ups, academics and sector leaders across the world. The competition will be judged by a panel of leading industry experts.
“We’re passionate about supporting our industries and customers through all forms of digital transformation and the cost-saving solutions we are searching for could also provide a lifeline to many mining and metals and oil and gas companies in the current economic climate,” added Dr. Mayhew.
Improving productivity, safety and sustainability
Up to ten finalists will be chosen to pitch their solutions at a digital pitch day later this year, after which Axora will validate the ROI models and vet the solutions. The winner will receive the ‘Axora Market Accelerator’ sales and marketing package worth £10,000. This includes a two-hour workshop, promotion through Axora’s thought leadership content and inclusion into its digital demand engines, providing the opportunity for the winning solution to benefit thousands of industrial companies. Entries are open until May 31. Full details of the competition including terms and conditions can be found here.
To learn more about the Axora B2B digital solutions marketplace read our feature in the latest issue of Mining Global magazine.