23 September 2022
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For battery factory ELEO, 3D printing is the most normal thing in the world. It is an inseparable part of the production process.
Scale-up ELEO explicitly uses 3D printing to accelerate its development process. The Eindhoven University of Technology spin-off develops battery systems for, among other things, large excavators in the construction industry but also for smaller logistics vehicles in warehouses.
Ever since it started as student team STORM, in 2014, the company has been using 3D printers, says Jules Frints, a product developer at ELEO. Back then, the team received a printer sponsored by the 3D printing company, Lay3rs from Brainport Eindhoven, where his colleague and friend Stephan van der Burgh worked. The two are now the 3D specialists within the company.
"At first we wondered if we were really going to do that much with it”, Frints admits. “But we became so enthusiastic that at one point we bought one ourselves. And that one was replaced by a better version. Now we have two of them."
In 2016, the student team rode a homemade electric motorcycle around the world in eighty days. The motorcycle served as a showcase to show the world that it is possible to ride electric anywhere, said co-founder Bas Verkaik in an interview.
Also, you're not dependent on a third party and you can quickly make something to test, Frints says. "It is nice to have a product in your hands at an early stage. It doesn't have to be good all at once. You can quickly fabricate something in a free form and then start fine-tuning it."
Of course, this first prototype won’t have the same accuracy or stiffness as the final material. Nor is that necessary in some tests, Frints says. For example, to see how sensitive a design is to electromagnetic radiation. "For that, it doesn't matter if I use a 3D printed or plastic injection molded part. For fire safety, vibration and shock tests, accuracy and material are important again."
The 3D printer is completely woven into the company's production process, for prototyping and tooling. "For us, it's very normal to turn an idea into a 3D print quickly. Just this week it happened. We had to assemble several components and quickly printed a mold for them. Just to put the components in place."