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Simplified compressor component for Atlas Copco, with 3D assistance from Sirris

Atlas Copco is a leading supplier of industrial productivity solutions, and its Wilrijk site is world renowned for its air and gas compressors. The Specials Department tailors these products to the specific requirements of a range of sectors. For example, some compressors are used on offshore drilling platforms and in maritime environments in which corrosion-resistant materials are essential. Compressor components – such as the drain pot – which are traditionally made from less corrosion-resistant material require rustproof alternatives when used in such environments. Atlas Copco relied on Sirris to optimise the design of its drain pot in 2015.
  • Simplified design suitable for 3D printing
  • Extensive functional analysis
  • Launch of additive manufacturing programme

 

Atlas Copco supplies industrial productivity solutions to a range of sectors worldwide. In Wilrijk, the company develops innovative air and gas compressors, vacuum solutions, generator sets, construction and mining equipment, industrial tools, assembly systems and so on.

“In collaboration with Sirris, Atlas Copco developed a new component compressor design entirely suited to 3D printing.”

Back to the drawing board

Compressors compress air. The water released during this process is collected in a ‘drain pot’ beneath the compressor, which contains a float. When there is no water in the drain pot, the float closes the pot to prevent loss of air. As the water level rises, the float is raised and the drain opens allowing the water to escape. With so much salt water around – both inside the compressor and in the offshore application for which it is used -non- rusting material is a top priority. During the ‘Design for Additive Manufacturing’ masterclass, Atlas Copco and Sirris went back to the drawing board to come up with a new drain pot design that would be just as functional and corrosion-resistant while using less material.

3D prototyping offers solution

It was decided to use titanium instead of aluminium for the new drain pot prototype. With casting not cost-effective for a small batch, 3D printing was the most logical alternative. However, the existing drain pot design was unnecessarily complex for this technique, so Sirris and Atlas Copco carried out a functional analysis to determine the core functions that the drain pot had to perform. Based on this analysis, a number of functions were merged and the resulting design was greatly simplified, featuring a compacter format with the necessary support structures reduced to a minimum – perfect for additive manufacturing.

Benefits that speak for themselves 

As well as eliciting much admiration at the RapidPro international trade fair, the new drain pot prototype marked the launch of an extensive company-wide additive manufacturing programme at Atlas Copco. The benefits of the 3D-printed drain pot speak for themselves: a drastic reduction in material use and more efficient and flexible production, with all the attendant cost savings.