Russian steel maker NLMK Lipetsk has signed a contract for equipping a new 3D printing centre that will be used to manufacture spare parts for operating equipment. The project will enable annual savings of close to RUB 200 million on the procurement and supply of spare parts for the Lipetsk site and other NLMK Group companies. The center's 3D printers will manufacture molds for casting parts using material jetting technology by applying powder and gluing it with a binder. Previously, such molds would be made with wooden patterns. Digital simulation will make it possible to manufacture shapes of any geometric complexity and check them for defects before casting, as well as reduce the lead time to several hours.
Successful 3D printing tests, in particular, with molds for casting blast-furnace tuyeres, preceded the decision to set up a 3D printing center. It will start off by producing about 150 different types of spare parts.