Sinterit 3D printed parts help rescue teams combat wildfires

Sinterit, a Polish manufacturer of SLS 3D printers, has released a new case study demonstrating the effective production of a part used in firefighting equipment.

A critical part of devices used in combating wildfires, the 3D printed part is a demonstration of the abilities of selective laser sintering (SLS), and dramatically cuts down the design workflow.

Support-free rapid production

Last month 3D Printing Industry was invited to Sinterit HQ in Krakow, Poland. In this visit we were treated to a preview of the company’s new, bigger, LISA 2 3D printer, and given a comprehensive workshop of the original LISA 1 3D printer.

The Sinterit Lisa 3D printer. Photo via Sinterit
The original Sinterit LISA 3D printer. Photo via Sinterit

“From the very beginning we saw the potential for [accessible SLS 3D printing],” explained Paweł Szczurek, CEO and co-founder of Sinterit in our interview. “This type of printer gives you a lot of freedom, strength and what you need for professionals that design mechanical parts.” 

Known as the “first affordable option for desktop SLS 3D printing, the LISA 3D printer allows businesses to produce functional and high-precision prototypes in a support-free environment.

FDM/FFF prints often require material support which can negatively affect the surface finish of its prints. LISA 3D prints do not suffer from this limitation as its technology can execute prints with complex or movable parts, opening up a design flexibility for its users.  

Now, not to be outdone by its new, bigger sister, the original LISA 1 has a new case study.

Fanning the flames

2017 marked the most expensive year on record for firefighting as the U.S. Forest Service spent over $2 billion combatting more than 50,000 wildfires. Notorious forest fires such as the British Columbia wildfires, the worst fire in the history of the province, and the La Tuna Fire, the largest fire in Los Angeles history, ravaged millions of acres within America and Canada.   

Considering that we are now in what meteorologists call “wildfire season”, our firefights need to be well-equipped in order to combat these natural disasters.  

An important tool in fighting wildfires are floating pumps. These pumps are semi-submersible devices that use natural water sources (lakes and lagoons) to deliver large amounts of waterflow through a firefighter’s attack hose.

Within the floating pumps, an important component, the water rotor, controls the flow and pressure of the water being used.

Water pump rotor 3D printed on the LISA 1. Photo via Sinterit
Water pump rotor 3D printed on the LISA 1. Photo via Sinterit

3D printed life-saving equipment

Identifying water flow as the most crucial action of combating fast-spreading fires, Sinterit decided to optimize the operations of floating pumps by redesigning the shape of the rotor blades. The aim was to increase pressure efficiency and engine speed.

In the traditional prototyping process, designers had to go through eight sequential stages, which included 2D documentation, machining, polishing, drilling and finally casting.

However, the Sinterit Lisa desktop SLS 3D printer replaces these stages with two concise steps – the implementation of the 3D model and execution of the of the product, i.e, the 3D print.

Using this accelerated method, Sinterit can produce high precision rotors that need no additional post-production processes.

Using SLS 3D printing manufacturing process of rotor production has accelerated by 30 percent, ultimately giving firefighters faster access to critical equipment.

3D printed water rotor in-situ. Photo via Sinterit
3D printed water rotor in-situ. Photo via Sinterit

Pushing 3D printing to extremes

With the help from the non-profit social enterprise, Proximity Designs, farmers in Myanmar have used 3D printing to rapidly produce parts for sprinkles and water pumps. This has allowed remote areas to have access to water through new and improved farming equipment.

Previous research studies have also utilized the additive manufacturing processes to aid in fire prevention. For example, researchers at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) have proposed the use of 3D printed wireless sensors as a warning mechanism for extreme environmental conditions, such as forest fires.  

On Sinterit’s application Konrad Glowacki, company co-founder, said, “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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Featured image shows fire rescue team. Photo by Benjamin Kerensa.  

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