Many manufacturers buy a 3D printer for one or
two applications. But East/West takes a different
approach, applying its Fortus 450mc for myriad
uses. One example includes full-scale prototypes
to help the machinists evaluate and plan the
machining process. This avoids potential timeconsuming
errors later on. Similarly, engineers
use 3D printed prototypes to check their designs.
Examining a physical part highlights problem
areas that might not be seen on the screen in
CAD , avoiding downstream production delays.
“Sometimes just holding a part in your hand
allows you to realize that you can’t possibly
machine the feature you want to put in there,”
When a sheet metal forming tool was damaged,
engineers printed a replacement tool using
carbon fiber FDM Nylon 12CF. Within two days
they had a new tool that successfully handled
the job. “One of the great things about having
a versatile piece of equipment like the Fortus
450mc is there are always new things to try,”
Vetter says. “We printed a full-size forming tool
with Nylon 12CF and it worked fantastically
the first time. It allowed us to save a significant
amount of time that could have been a very large
risk to the schedule,” Vetter adds.
Another application includes 3D printed
surrogate parts. Some sub-assemblies East/
West makes must fit with parts located off-site
at the customer’s facility. Vetter’s team 3D prints
stand-ins for those mating parts using customersupplied
CAD data. This ensures East/West’s
parts fit perfectly with the customer’s assembly.
“First-time quality is critical to our customers.
Being able to inspect the parts to ensure they’re
going to work 100% when they go out the door
is a huge benefit for our customers and East/
West,” says Vetter. It also shows customers how
East/West invests in forward-leaning technology
like additive manufacturing to meet their needs.