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100% Swiss made – Innovative window systems with SLS components

At Eschbal, a Swiss manufacturer of window systems, prototypes, small series and production tools are additively manufactured. To this end, the technical department around Michael Ebnöther successfully uses a Sintratec S2.

Modern window systems from Switzerland

A warm fall day in Winterthur, Switzerland. The wooden building of Eschbal, clad with tall glass windows, already gives an idea of what this company specializes in. We are greeted by Michael Ebnöther and are guided through a production hall. Here and at two other locations, the Eschbal group develops and produces its own wood and wood/metal window systems. «Our diverse customer base particularly appreciates our innovation, proximity and flexibility», emphasizes Ebnöther. The employee in the technology department is currently focusing on sustainability and material cycles.

Window System Sirius
Window System Sirius by Eschbal
The “Sirius” window system is Eschbal’s main product. Image source: Eschbal AG

Since 2018, Michael Ebnöther is part of the technology department at Eschbal.

Innovation and product optimization

Technical drawings of components appear on the screen in Ebnöther’s office. In addition to its core business, the fabrication of aluminum frames and sashes, Eschbal’s daily agenda includes the continuous optimization and development of its products. For its flagship product, the “Sirius” window system, the team succeeded in maximizing the glass surface to let in as much light as possible. But innovative ideas alone are not enough. «To strengthen our market position, we need to respond quickly to individual customer requirements», says Ebnöther. This is where additive technologies come into play.

Incorporating 3D printing processes

«In terms of design, 3D printing gives us much more creativity – we can now develop things that we hadn’t even thought of before», explains Ebnöther. Until a year ago, Eschbal had commissioned 3D printed parts from external service providers. However, as internal demand continued to grow, the company decided to acquire its own printer. «Sintratec was the ideal solution for us. As we are a company that manufactures exclusively in and for Switzerland, it was essential for us to find a Swiss 3D printer», emphasizes Ebnöther. Since fall 2022, a Sintratec S2 has been successfully in use at Eschbals’ production facility.

3D printing has become an integral part of product development.

High-quality parts in a short time

The team uses the modular SLS system to realize prototype parts, production tools and small series of window components with robust PA12 nylon. Why did Eschbal choose selective laser sintering (SLS) in particular? «With the SLS process, we were especially impressed by the tolerances of up to 0.1 millimeters and the surface quality», explains Ebnöther. «In addition, other technologies such as FDM cannot deliver the quantities we need – with the S2 we can print up to 100 parts within 24 hours», the technician continues.

Depowdered SLS components
Finished SLS Parts

Profiles and window components are laser sintered with PA12.

At Eschbal, SLS is used for prototypes, series parts or production aids such as cutting bases.

Comparable material properties

3D parts have become indispensable for Eschbal, especially for prototyping. «Before we invest in an expensive injection molding tool, we need something in our hands that we can test and verify,» says Ebnöther. It is crucial that the SLS parts have very similar properties to the injection molded products. Equally important is the shorter development time: «Compared to the previous process with external suppliers, the S2 saves us several days.» For small quantities, Eschbal also manufactures series parts. For example, a reinforcing element that is only required for special profile combinations. An injection molding tool would not be profitable here, so the component is produced on demand on the S2 instead.

Less weight – more flexibility

Ebnöther presents another application example. A connector was previously heavy and bulky. To optimize it, the design was revised, quickly printed with PA12, iterated and verified. «As a result, we were able to reduce the weight of the new connector by 33%», says Ebnöther. Eschbal’s production department is also grateful for the SLS printer. Tools and auxiliary materials, such as the cutting bases for the cutting machine, which previously had to be commissioned, are now 3D printed in-house to precisely fit the corresponding profile. This is cheaper, faster, and allows the company to react much more effectively to potential adjustments.

A connecting element was optimized using an SLS prototype.

Pushing design boundaries

By implementing SLS 3D printing, the technicians at Eschbal have gained valuable design freedom. «It is simply easier, faster and cheaper to push the boundaries», says Ebnöther. For Eschbal’s development department, the Sintratec S2 has fulfilled the team’s expectations and hopes. «From the first contact until today, we are completely satisfied – the team and the support from Sintratec are a clear recommendation», concludes Michael Ebnöther.

Michael Ebnoether

“The Sintratec S2 meets our expectations and allows us to manufacture precise prototype parts, auxiliary tools and small series in a short amount of time.”

Michael Ebnöther
Technology Department
Eschbal AG

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