3D printing technology like that being tested to enable astronauts to manufacture precision parts in space is being used for a more down-to-earth application by Technofast Industries to supply hydraulic fasteners to customers in the mining, quarry, energy, construction and infrastructure and manufacturing industries.
“Even though our 3D technology is way less sophisticated than the system being tested by NASA to save freight costs of upwards of US$20,000 a kilo to supply the international space station, the principles of our system are similar in many ways,” said Technofast CEO John Bucknell.
To save time and costs freighting heavy steel hydraulic fasteners to customers in the United States, Europe, Australia and the Asia-Pacific, Technofast asks them to first provide a 3D engineering graphic CAD file of the application for which they require Technofast’s hydraulic nuts.
“We then fabricate on a 3D printer an exact but far less expensive lightweight plastic example of what they need so they can trial the fitting before committing to the bigger order of multiple fasteners made from high-strength metal,” said Bucknell.
The real steel versions of these globally proven safety and labour-saving nuts can be simultaneously actuated to give accurate, even and time-saving torquing across sets of bolts used in applications ranging from motors and turbines, nuclear and convention power plants, mineral processing, communition and production equipment and construction machinery and structures.
“The plastic replica provided is exact in terms of dimensions and fittings, right down to preferred thread types and sizes and other details. This way we can dramatically shorten supply lines by eliminating mistakes – and talking by video link with customers worldwide who are holding in their hand the product they want for their particular purpose. It makes it so much easier to arrive at a definitive version of the technology they want,” said Bucknell.
The application graphics delivered to Technofast graphics come from as far as 20,000 km away to Technofast operations in Australia and the United States (compared with the distance to the Space Station, which orbits 400 km above the earth.)
Technofast has more than doubled the size of its Brisbane premises in recent years as a result of expanded global demand for its tensioning and products, which are typically used where rapid, simplified, and safe maintenance is important and secure and long-lasting joints and precision force application is integral to safety.
Technofast EziTite Hydraulic nuts often need to fit into compact spaces. In these applications, a 3D model can be used for test fitting purposes, to ensure the nut would fit properly, before manufacturing and installing the actual nut.
Technofast’s EziTite Hydraulic nuts and bolts, for example, are rapidly applied by being placed installed on bolt studs then hydraulically actuated, stretching the bolt to the precise tension required and then locking it in place mechanically with a locking device.
The reverse procedure permits equally rapid disassembly when it is eventually required for maintenance.
The Technofast family of products, proven over two decades, includes EziJac bolt tensioners, LiftaJac, Camnuts, EziTite clamp nuts, head nuts, bearing setters, and custom designs for specialised applications.