3D printed rescue vehicles by My Track Technology
How much do you know about rescue vehicles? What about eco-friendly 3D printed rescue vehicles? Based in Canada, My Track Technology (MTT) designs and manufactures electric, environmentally-friendly track vehicles using 3D printing technology. Such vehicles have multiple purposes, from saving people in emergency situations to urgent delivery of materials. At the beginning, MTT was using conventional methods of production, but later realized that additive manufacturing can benefit them in more than just one way. Therefore, in order to obtain quality 3D printed parts, the company decided to partner with one of the biggest additive manufacturing service providers, Shapeways. What impact did the integration of 3D printing technology have on MTT’s vehicle production processes?
My Track Technology’s vehicle, which goes by the same name, is an electric remote-controlled track vehicle designed to easily navigate in extreme terrains. It is resistant to elements and autonomous – the qualities that make it indispensable in certain situations for civilian, military, and agricultural applications. There is more than just one type of the vehicle, in fact, the MTT models can be personalized to meet individual needs, such as transporting people with reduced mobility, carrying critical first aid equipment, or providing electrical energy during an emergency. Due to its low center of gravity, the machine is capable of effortlessly navigating steep slopes, while its simple design and maximum clearance enables the vehicle to easily pass over various obstacles.
MTT turned to additive manufacturing when they felt the need to accelerate the product development and reduce costs. Initially, the company was using a desktop FDM 3D printer to create the parts “in-house”, but once they started realizing the full potential of the technology, they decided to expand further and thus contacted a professional 3D printing service provider for collaboration. Shapeways was happy to step in and bring the much-needed high quality and speed into MTT’s production workflow. Michael Martel is the head of MTT product development, and here is what he thinks: “When buying a printer you have an amazing amount of choice offered to you. The problem is to have a printer for all of the applications. The size of the parts, the surface finish, the resistance and the productivity of this printer are all to be considered. Unless you have $100,000 or more to invest in an SLS or HP printer you will never have the quality, robustness, precision and surface finish of a Shapeways part.”
When it comes to the parts made with additive manufacturing, My Track Technology is happy to not be limited to a particular shape anymore – with AM, virtually every shape is possible. For the moment MTT mostly uses SLS 3D printing, with Nylon PA12 as the material. To create certain custom parts, such as grommets, they also use thermoplastic polyurethane, TPU, which is characterized by its high flexibility and durability. “In each MTT vehicle there are about 20 plastic parts. Last year we were in a very big rush to do a test with the US military and we had no time to build 20 molds for every single part. We saved at least 6 months (concept, drawing for molding, mold building and parts production) by 3D printing with Shapeways”, says Martel. By integrating 3D printing technologies into their production, the company can now enjoy other benefits as well, such as the precision and repeatability that are significantly better than with most of the others manufacturing techniques.
What do you think about the 3D printed rescue vehicles by My Track Technology? Let us know in a comment below or on our Facebook and Twitter pages! Sign up for our free weekly Newsletter, all the latest news in 3D printing straight to your inbox!