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As wildfire season starts, Sinterit’s SLS 3D printing helps to optimize firefighting equipment

As forest fires increasingly rage through forests and towns around the world—currently Colorado and New Mexico are battling intense wildfires—it is starting to sink in that they are a reality of climate change and something we will inevitably be seeing more of. To reckon with increasingly powerful and frequent wildfires, firefighters require more powerful and high-quality equipment that they can rely on.

At this time of year especially (June is the beginning of wildfire season), firefighting teams need the best equipment possible—from protective gear and transport to extremely powerful water pumps. In the case of the latter, Polish 3D printer manufacturer Sinterit recently provided its own selective laser sintering (SLS) technology to local rescue equipment company Ogniochron help improve the design of a water pump rotor for combatting wildfire flames.

Water pump systems used by firefighters must meet a number of requirements to work effectively: they need to be strong and robust to withstand extreme water pressure, they need to ensure proper water flow and they have to be operated by engine. To perform optimally, each component of the water pump and its assembly must therefore be carefully designed and manufactured.

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In the case of wildfires, rescue and fire fighting units often rely on floating pumps, which draw water from natural sources to fill fire engine tanks and can pump as much as 1000 dm3 of water per minute. To further optimize an existing floating pump mechanism, a team of specialists from Ogniochron decided to redesign the shape of the rotor blades for a pump using 3D printing technologies.

By using the Sinterit Lisa SLS 3D printer, the Ogniochron team was able to significantly speed up the design, prototype and testing process for the new rotor blade, which in turn meant that the part could be put into production more rapidly. Prior to using 3D printing, the team would have had to go through eight successive stages (including 2D documentation, casting and machining) to design the part. With 3D printing, however, the number of stages was reduced to two: implementing the 3D model and 3D printing the part.

“Printing parts on Sinterit Lisa 3D printer, which operates in the SLS 3D printing technology, helped to reach the goal,” said Konrad Glowacki, co-founder of Sinterit. “[The] printed element got the regular surface and thanks to isotropic properties of SLS powder as well as its mechanical parameters it was ideal to provide real-life tests and confirm the final shape of the pump.”

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In the end, the use of SLS technology enabled the water pump engineers to reduce the rotor production process by 30%. Importantly, the technology also would have allowed for quick redesign and iteration if the rotor pump model had needed any tweaking or adjustments.   

The Sinterit Lisa 3D printer (recently succeeded by the new Lisa 2 3D printer) is recognized as being the first desktop SLS 3D printer on the market and the most affordable, making it attractive to professional designers and small businesses looking to leverage the precision and quality of SLS printed parts.

Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault moved from her home of Montreal, Canada to the Netherlands in 2014 to pursue a master’s degree in Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. It was during her time in Amsterdam that she became acquainted with 3D printing technology and began writing for a local additive manufacturing news platform. Now based in France, Tess has over two and a half years experience writing, editing and publishing additive manufacturing content with a particular interest in women working within the industry. She is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM industry.

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