Showcase AM Expo 2021

Automation in seconds - optimized feedrail

An automation system has to move 20 different products very quickly from a conveyor bowl to the assembly line. A hard job for the engineers, but a perfect job for SLM!

Industrial partner

Aerne Engineering AG in Arbon and its more than 80 employees develop customer-specific systems for innovative automation solutions. Since competitors are very active too in this business area, innovative and at the same time cost-efficient solutions are key.


This is what they built in this project. For the assembly of 20 different small parts, the bulk goods should be separated, aligned and fed in at extremely fast cycle times. However, the first, milled version of the feed rail caused problems. The small parts got stuck in the rail and the transport via vibration of the conveyor bowl was clearly too slow.
The rest of the construction of the system was very advanced and the success of the entire project now depended on this feed rail.

Additional benefits through additive manufacturing

The engineers approached BSF Bünter AG with the idea of ​​accelerating the small parts using compressed air. In a very short time, a first 3D model was developed in close cooperation, which fulfilled the main functions by using inclined and parallel air channels. At the same time, the design was optimized for additive manufacturing (SLM).
Until the handing over to the customer, a total of 16 SLM feed rails could be equipped with various additional functions.

  • Surpassed cycle time of only 0.22 seconds
  • Reliable supply of 20 different small parts
  • Easy exchange of the rails when switching products
  • Integrated labeling of the rails, which are very similar on the outside
  • High rigidity due to struts
  • Reduced wear on the guide surfaces