Engineer in front of 3D printer for prototypes

Prototypes Built Using New 3D Printer

Ultimation’s new 3D printer is now building prototypes that will help the company quickly design, test and develop specialized plastic parts for conveyor systems.

Ultimation won the industrial 3D printer in a pitch contest hosted by Michigan Economic Development Corporation by showing how it could help solve a business problem and support their company overall. Tommaso Helwig, Ultimation’s engineering manager, made the winning pitch.

“Working with the Photocentric LC Magna 3D Printer has been a great experience because it can handle complex designs and large formats,” said Tommaso.


He added that the new printer also allows the company to implement design changes more quickly and cost-effectively than outsourcing prototype work.

Engineer in front of 3D printer for prototypes

Once the new printer was delivered, the Ultimation team ensured it was set up in a proper temperature- and light-controlled environment. Extensive staff training using a variety of materials yielded several learnings. For example, the team discovered that shorter parts can be printed in stacks or layers, making for a more efficient build.

One of the first applications was the design and development of a sleeve for Ultimation’s motor-driven conveyor rollers to provide added protection when shipping the sensitive electrical components.

According to Tommaso, having the on-site capability for parts prototyping is helping Ultimation attract new conveyor projects—especially for proprietary containers for vertical farming.

“Our ability to quickly design and test designs in-house is a big advantage, especially when coupled with Ultimation’s extensive knowledge of the industry,” he said.

A next step for the team is to continue exploring the printer’s capabilities. Tommaso explained that the Photocentric LC Magna is used widely in the dental industry for mouth guards and other items. The Ultimation team is exploring options for using the 3D technology for conveyor parts in food preparation and handling environments which have similar high safety standards.

“This printer really opens up the options for us to continue to innovate for our customers,” said Tommaso. “We are just starting to scratch the surface of its capabilities.”