Sandvik partners with Boliden on 3D printing trial

Sandik Mining and Rock Solutions and mining company Boliden are running a joint trial to 3D print machine parts to be installed on underground drill rigs.

The companies plan to print a range of specially redesigned components at a Sandvik-managed facility in Italy and monitor their performance on machines in Boliden’s underground mine worksites in Sweden and Ireland.

“Additive manufacturing shows a lot of potential, both in reducing carbon footprint within the supply chain, through reduced or eliminated need for transport and storage of parts and also shorter delivery times,” said Ronne Hamerslag, head of supply management at Boliden. “This trial will give us a deeper understanding on how we can move forward and develop our business in a competitive way,”

 “Mining equipment can last up to 25 years – and needs to be supported throughout that time – even in the most remote of locations,” said Erik Lundén, president at Sandvik Mining & Rock Solutions. “We have many different SKUs (stock keeping units), and from an inventory point of view we can’t tie up the capital that keeping all these parts in stock would entail. 3D printing of parts locally offers us the prospect of not only getting parts to the customer much faster, but doing so far more sustainably.”

The companies say that maintenance and repair operating items such as the bushes, brackets, drill parts are most required to be 3D printed as engineers need to change them every 3,000-4,000 hours.

Sandik and Boliden says that they also need to decide on the business model for 3D printed parts. “Who does the printing – the OEM, the miner, or a third-party printing company?” a press release said. “What will the costs be? What about intellectual property rights, warranties and liabilities? All these things – and more – need to be resolved in the development of a 3D printed future.