Using 3D scanning and additive manufacturing technology, the 3M BIC was able to repair parts of a 70-year-old machine to secure its longevity and the future of century-old military uniform manufacturer, Wyedean, based in Yorkshire.
Wyedean is a Haworth-based manufacturer of military uniform regalia and accessories that has been supplying a vast range of products to the Armed Forces for over a century. Wyedean approached the 3M BIC when a Leesona winder part broke. Made out of cast iron spares were impossible to come by and it needed to be identical to fit the seventy-year-old machinery. Although a small part, without it the machine wouldn’t work and production would come to a halt.
The 3M BIC’s in-house design team was provided with the broken, cast-iron winder part. The part lacked three of its ‘fingers’ intended to hold the cardboard inner roll of a thread spool securely in place on the Leesona winder. The team scanned the broken winder part using a combination of optical, photogrammetry and x-ray computerised tomography (XCT) for greatest precision.
Scans were corrected by digitally ‘removing’ the broken parts and recreating the whole by mirroring the unbroken side before converting the repaired file into a printable CAD file format. This was used to manufacture a replacement part in a nylon polymer using selective laser sintering (SLS), a form of additive manufacturing, that was lightweight yet potentially strong enough to undertake the same function and fit.
The intention was to 3D print a replacement in stainless steel and lightweight the design to retain the essential form and function but remove unnecessary bulk with steel being much less brittle than cast iron. The polymer winder part, however, is still in operation therefore a replacement in metal was never needed.
Other than those broken parts, the winder machine is in good shape so by replacing them it will probably be good for another 70 years. Leesona winders are quite versatile, being able to wind many different yarn compositions. Modern day winders, albeit much faster, are not so versatile so we prefer to continue using the Leesona winders.
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