U.S. construction equipment corporation, Caterpillar Inc. recently announced a partnership with FIT AG, a German additive manufacturing company.

During their three-year joint venture, Caterpillar and FIT AG will aim to develop new titanium and aluminum parts for large-scale construction equipment using 3D printing and rapid prototyping technologies.

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In one project Caterpillar 3D printed 36 different track links before moving to end-production saving 160000 in time and labor Image courtesy of Caterpillar

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Following Other 3D Printing Production Pursuits
The new partnership is meant to be mutually beneficial for both companies. Caterpillar is already familiar with 3D printing technology, having explored the rapid prototyping of smaller and slow moving parts used in construction machinery.

In 2016, the heavy equipment manufacturer even opened a new additive manufacturing facility and foundry near their company headquarters in Illinois.

FIT AG’s experience with rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing, coupled with their expansive production technology, may allow Caterpillar to scale up their 3D printed part manufacturing capabilities while also accelerating production of various equipment components.


More Experience In Industrial Markets
For FIT AG the benefits of the venture are expected to come in the form of deepening experience in serving more industrial based manufacturing markets. Their alliance with Caterpillar could be especially advantageous for testing more of their technology at a time when additive manufacturing in industrial and infrastructure applications is continuing to broaden.

Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Additive Manufacturing And OEMs
The partnership between Caterpillar and FIT AG could be extended past the initial three-year plan based on whatever progress and parts are yielding in that time. The venture also represents another step for additive manufacturing’s transition from an mostly experimental technology into a practical production method for more OEMs.

While 3D printing as a heavy duty industrial technology was met with skepticism in its earliest days—primarily due to material limitations and production speed—parts made from titanium, aluminum, and other industrial materials have broadened the potential of this production method.

Have you seen 3D printed parts or additive manufacturing methods become more common in your industry? Share your thoughts on this story in the comments.

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