Home Applications & Case Studies ASS Maschinenbau reduces carbon footprint with 3D printing

ASS Maschinenbau reduces carbon footprint with 3D printing

ASS Maschinenbau, a company with over 40 years of experience in the automation and robotics industry, is increasingly using 3D printing technologies to realize customer-specific gripping solutions. The Overath-based company specializes in the development and production of gripper parts from a robot hand kit, end-of-arm tooling (EOAT) and complete automation solutions for the automotive and plastics industries. ASS attaches great importance to sustainability and has already been able to reduce 66% of its total CO₂ footprint.

Most components are manufactured directly in-house at ASS Maschinenbau, with standard parts from the robot hand kit being the most cost-effective to implement. Nevertheless, there are numerous customer-specific gripping solutions that require complex geometries and are often made of aluminum. This wide range of variants posed a challenge that ASS Maschinenbau overcame by using the SLS process (selective laser sintering). This process is also used to produce 3D-printed components for final assembly.

However, ASS was looking for an additional solution for components with higher mechanical loads and found it in Markforged technology. The individually manufactured components, which used to be made of aluminum, are now almost 100% produced using the industrial Markforged 3D printer. One example is a set of gripper jaws that underwent around 300,000 cycles under real conditions without any visible wear. This experience led ASS Maschinenbau to define the technology as state-of-the-art and to start equipping more and more applications with 3D-printed components.

The material behind these high-strength components is Markforged ONYX, a polyamide 6 with around 15% carbon short fibers. The components are additionally reinforced with continuous carbon fibers through a second nozzle in the print head, which optimally distributes stresses. These reinforcements make it possible to largely replace aluminum as a material.

With the new microLIGHT product line, ASS Maschinenbau now offers an ultra-lightweight micro gripper system that enables maximum flexibility and compatibility in the application. Grippers from the microLIGHT system can be easily connected to various industrial robots, which considerably expands the range of possible applications. The 3D-printed components offer the necessary stability and lightness to be able to operate smaller injection molding systems, which was previously not possible.

ASS Maschinenbau is on a continuous development path and sees great potential for the future in additive manufacturing. The positive response from customers confirms the success of this innovative approach.

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