A scalable industrial process thanks to 3D printing

Renamed ARMOR-IIMAK following the acquisition of its American competitor in October 2021, ARMOR GROUP’s Thermal Transfer activity is the undisputed market leader thanks to its expanded global industrial coverage.
The first synergies between the two entities, which feed off each other, have been growing since the autumn. ARMOR GROUP’s range of Thermal Transfer ribbons has been enriched with new products from IIMAK.
The problem: these new components are 20 millimeters longer than those of ARMOR GROUP and do not fit into the metal runners of the coating machines on its industrial sites. This raises a crucial question: how can ARMOR-IIMAK’s coating machines be upgraded quickly and on a global scale to accommodate these new products?

The production of a custom-made 3D tape spacer

ARMOR-IIMAK relied on the expertise of KIMYA, an ARMOR GROUP company, to help it produce a custom-made part that would keep the metal slides of the coating machines wide and thus separate the rolls of ribbons throughout the process.
After two prototypes in PETG-S on a printer Raise 3D pro 2, KIMYA offers a carbon fiber-based PETG tape spacer: Kimya PETG Carbon. PETG is a thermoplastic known for its resistance in industrial environments subject to heat and humidity. Enriched with carbon fiber, this material offers high mechanical properties and increased resistance.

The agility of 3D printing for industrial performance

With the objective of upgrading and standardizing its coating machines on a global scale, ARMOR-IIMAK imposed a one-month deadline on KIMYA. The additive manufacturing expert then proposed a tape spacer, available in three models to meet the specific requirements of ARMOR-IIMAK’s various coating machines.
First prototyped and tested on its American site, the separator was then installed on the Mexican site to validate its application in real production conditions. Once this second stage is successfully completed, the part will be deployed throughout ARMOR-IIMAK’s industrial park. 20 parts have already been produced.

Long-term support

Aware that additive manufacturing is a real lever for Industry 4.0, ARMOR-IIMAK fully integrates 3D printing into its industrial process.
KIMYA has worked with ARMOR-IIMAK on a number of additive manufacturing projects, including the manufacture of tablet holders for forklifts, gear production for a slitting machine, and blade holders.

Our customers say it best

Michael Garnett, Process Improvement at ARMOR-IIMAK:
“The merger between ARMOR GROUP and IIMAK pushed the teams to rethink the industrial process with the imperative of preserving the pace and quality of production. This difference in size between the rolls of ribbons called into question our way of doing things. The idea of creating a 3D tape spacer quickly became apparent, given the relatively high cost of plastic injection. By providing us with flexibility and agility, 3D printing allowed us to quickly implement a customized and sustainable solution with the prospect of deploying it on our entire machine park”