Case Study - BOWMAN
INDUSTRY SEGMENT: PARTS PROVIDERS | Contract Manufacturers
BOWMAN is a company founded in 1974 in Oxford, UK.
They are suppliers of bearing cages and seals for entire bearing assemblies to final customers from bearing distributors. The bearing distributors sell the different segments; mining, agriculture, ships, etc…
Bowman is the 3rd market player for bearing cages. The first two are SKF and SRB.
These two competitors have not adopted 3D printing yet, they are bigger companies than Bowman and thus change is more difficult. Moreover, they have a lot of experience producing the aluminum bearing cages and are improving the design, but getting only 5% more productivity while Bowman is getting up to 40% with plastic parts.
Smaller suppliers might adopt 3D printing as well, but Bowman has several patents to protect their designs
Bowman International offers an unparalleled range of bearings and sintered parts for all applications across all industries. Whether you are working on a large, complex project that requires many bearings of different sizes or a smaller project with standard size bearings they have the right solution. They are able to quote in metric and imperial sizes and have the capability to produce special, one-off sizes especially for your specific project.
Bearings are used in any machine where radial force is required
FINAL PART: Optimization
APPLICATION VERTICAL INDUSTRIAL | Machinery equipment
FINAL PART: Optimization
They have optimized the design of the bearing cages to improve the radial capacity
Plastic parts are better because it allows you to put more rollers in the bearing because you can create thinner spaces and due that, between rollers. Thanks to this. pressure applied is better distributed, and the life of the product is longer.
With redesign for 3D printing they achieved a 75% parts reduction on the bearing assemblies
With traditional manufacturing the lead time was 12-14 weeks, with 3D printing with HP MJF technology the lead time is 1 week.
In this case, 3D printing is more expensive than traditional manufacturing but has improved the performance and due that, less maintenance is requiredad, and less spare parts are needed. Previous parts produced with aluminum did not have a clip to remove the bearing cage, so they have to roll it in the tube meaning they have to roll all the parts in the pipeline, so they were replacing them all at the same time.
One year ago, Bowman bought the Formiga machine to work with EOS Black PA11 to start their 3D printing production. They had a lot of problems because got a bad batch of material and EOS did not solve the situation to them, so they are really upset with EOS, they did not get good parts for 6months…so they decided to buy an HP MJFmachine
They say the cost per part of SLS is cheaper, but with HP MJF technology, they can produce up to 5-7 times more with the same time. They are expecting high production ramp up in mid-term, so this is one key element to choose HP MJF technology for final parts production.
Tested PA12 and PA11 and decided to go to PA11 because of the higher elongation and the better cosmetics
The elongation is required because the cages and seals have clips
They are dyeing the parts in black for the wear. If not dyed, they could more easily see the black insight the MJF parts when there was wear and then engineers freaked out
Compared to SLS better mech prop because the batch they received produced very fragile parts, better productivity & speed, consistency, reliability of the company
The only barrier they have with PA11 is temperature, but today can target 90% of the bearings they are producing. A higher temperature material open the bearing opportunities but should also have high elongation at break