Under the DURAN® brand, DWK Life Sciences is known for developing innovative glass labware products. For the first time, the product development team have succeeded in designing a 4-port GL 45 bottle connector cap manufactured using metal 3D printing. This fully functional component is manufactured from a medical grade 316L stainless steel.
"Development of new labware, especially glass products, is traditionally a slow process," says Alistair Rees, DURAN® product manager. "In contrast, the development time for the 3D printed connector cap was very short: from the first idea to the final printed product only took about two months."
Previously, stainless steel connector GL 45 caps have been manufactured using conventional machining and welding processes. 3D additive manufacturing enables a design-driven manufacturing process, where design determines production and not the other way around. A similar welded product weights over 150 grams, compared to the printed version at around 50 grams, which is more than a two-thirds weight reduction.
Each batch takes around 51 hours to print using an EOS system. During this time, metal powder is deposited layer by layer. With each layer, the software controlled 400-Watt laser melts the stainless steel powder into the exact shape defined for the product. The material cools immediately and the connector takes shape. In the final production stage, the surface is finished using physical and electro-chemical processes.