By Harvest Technologies
A CAD file of a part for Cheetah Tool’s Automatic Blind Rivet System. Courtesy of Harvest Technologies
Harvest Technologies creates production parts for Cheetah Tool Systems from 3D Systems tough, functional sintering material.
Cheetah Tool Systems developed a revolutionary new riveting system with the help of 3D Systems’ DuraForm® Plastic parts.
Partnering with parts service provider Harvest Technologies (Belton, Texas), Cheetah Tool tested custom-built sintered plastic parts built from 3D Systems’ DuraForm® Plastic for its patented Automatic Blind Rivet System.
Cheetah Tool used Rapid Prototyping to quickly and inexpensively evolve the design.
“We put the phrase ‘Rapid Prototyping’ to work,” said David Fulbright, founder of Cheetah Tool. “Complicated designs, functional parts that handled stress, several iterations – the properties of DuraForm® Plastic are remarkable. We had astronomical savings in time and money by using Selective Laser Sintering (SLS®) technology and DuraForm® Plastic.”
Cheetah Tool used 3D Systems’ DuraForm® Plastic to quickly and inexpensively evolve the design and build 25 percent of the final production parts. Courtesy of Cheetah Tool Systems
DuraForm® Plastic is used to directly manufacture more than a dozen parts in the final riveting tool.
Design Freedom Leads to Revolutionary Design
Cheetah Tool, founded in 2003, hoped to bring high-speed technology to industrial, high-strength blind rivet fastening systems. The first prototypes were created totally through machining, with components made from metal or plastics.
“It’s a complicated hand tool with many functions inside it and we didn’t get it right the first time,” Fulbright said.
Looking for design freedom, parts consolidation, more lightweight material options, and faster results, Cheetah Tool began working with Harvest, a 3D Systems’ preferred parts service provider.
“3D Systems’ sintering technology helped us design and create very complicated parts in days instead of weeks or months,” Fulbright said.
Using the quick and cost-effective flexibility of SLS® technology, Cheetah Tool performed four design iterations to make the rivet system easier to assemble, more reliable and functionally faster. The company worked especially close with Harvest to overcome the technical challenges of manufacturing complex geometries out of lightweight plastics.
Cost Savings and Quicker Time to Market
In hindsight, Cheetah Tool saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in tooling and months in getting their hand tool to the marketplace.
“If the 3D Systems’ technology wasn’t available, I would have needed a million more dollars and with all the intricate parts, it would not have been possible to finish the riveting tool,” Fulbright said.
Twenty-five percent of the production hand tool is manufactured in DuraForm® Plastic, a testament to the excellent mechanical properties, elevated temperature tolerance, and nice surface finish capability of the nylon-based material. Not only are parts accurate, but they are also machinable, paintable and have good chemical resistance.
“We’ve been pleased that we could do something no one in the industry has been able to do,” Fulbright said. “This tool has been asked for by the transportation industry for 30 years.”
With a cycle time of less than two seconds, the Automatic Blind Rivet System increases productivity while eliminating operator fatigue. The 8 lb. (3.6 kg) tool provides quick, seamless operation and can be used manually or as a fully automated system.
333 Three D Systems Circle
Rock Hill, SC 29730