Case study: Southern Champion Tray
3D printed parts save time and costs throughout the plant in prototypes, spare parts & production parts
“I continue to be amazed at how natural this technology is to implement. We have end-use or prototype tested 3D printed parts in nearly every area of our facility.”
- Andrew Magee / Maintenance Engineer, SCT
Southern Champion Tray is a third generation, family-owned company manufacturing quality paperboard packaging products. SCT made their first investment in 3D printing several years ago. They reached a point where the need had grown for more R&D applications, a larger build platform, and the ability to take advantage of the exploding number of open polymer options available in the market.
Their next 3D printer must:
- Be an R&D platform that could inform future design and acquisition decisions
- Solve many different application requirements with a single platform
- Enable access to the open world of engineering thermoplastics available to them at fair market prices
- Support a wide range of spare parts on demand requirements
SCT was growing quickly in a strong economy and as a result the maintenance department was getting overwhelmed with requests for repair parts. They needed a robust platform that would give them more material options for the wide range of requests coming from all over the plant. They also wanted to begin an R&D effort aimed at how best to leverage 3D printing technology at the company. They were happy with their initial acquisition from a few years before, but the closed material environment and the cost of those materials limited their ability to expand.
How Plural Helped
It started with an initial phone call with Plural AM where a discussion occurred around specific needs. It quickly moved to a review of key SCT part files and then the use of Plural's CPP (cost per part) tool for fully costing out the parts to be printed on the 3ntr A2 printer, Plural's large bed printer. The part costs were significantly less than how they were currently being produced.
The next step was to print a couple of benchmark parts in open materials which provide the required mechanical properties. The parts were tested and performed exactly as needed.
SCT did a thorough review of all competitive printers shown at RAPID 2019, which provided all the data they needed to make a decision to expand their 3D printing capabilities with 3ntr.
Andrew Magee, Maintenance Engineer at SCT, commented, “Not only were we happy at the speed with which we were helped during the acquisition process, our first year of experience has proven that we are able to do everything we hoped and more with our A2.”
Results, ROI & Future Plans
SCT's first three-month report showed a savings of $20K. Shortly thereafter they saved an additional $24K on just one part. Savings on a few specific parts alone paid for their A2 in less than 12 months.
R&D efforts have also benefitted greatly. SCT has been able to deliver to many different groups at the company the parts they needed in record time at significant cost savings.
In addition, many spare parts have been printed that were once custom machined, hugely cutting both cost and lead times. A2 printed parts have also eliminated the need for the company to invest in additional machinery.
The future will bring more requirements with plans for the maintenance department to play a role in the development of parts for new products from SCT—a first in the company's history.
Open, large-format industrial 3D printing and an extensive range of materials is paying off at SCT far beyond their initial expectations.