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Tommy Tveter, Totech
Photo: Camilla Johansson, IUC Väst

3D Printing unlocks new opportunities for Totech

"Courage is essential. Success isn't guaranteed, but without trying, you'll never find out," says Robert Aronsson, Construction Manager at Totech, reflecting on the subject of 3D printing. In 2023, the company took a bold step by printing its first hydraulic block in stainless steel. This achievement was realized as part of the recently concluded 3D-Action project, coordinated by RISE. 

Totech from Billingsfors in Dalsland, Sweden, is a provider of technical solutions in production engineering, manufacturing, and automation. For many years, the majority of their activities have been in the offshore sector. One of their products is a 6.8-kilogram aluminium hydraulic block, which we will return to. 

We have spoken to two of the key figures at Totech, who have been with the company since it was founded in the 1990s, Tommy Tveter, CEO, and Robert Aronsson, Construction Manager. These inquisitive individuals, deeply passionate about technology, quickly embraced the concept of 3D printing as it gained momentum. The idea of incorporating the technology into their work was not foreign to them when they first heard about the 3D-Action project through IUC Väst. The question was: How would they take on this endeavor? 

Better, smaller, and more agile

Following conversations with IUC Väst and RISE, along with a visit to the Application Center for Additive Manufacturing, Tommy Tveter and Robert Aronsson were certain about two things: their desire to engage in the project and their interest in experimenting with printing a hydraulic block. 

"In a typical hydraulic block, drilling is necessary, and some of the channels pose challenges. Drills tend to be straight – or at least they begin that way when you start drilling," Tommy Tveter says, with a smile.   

This was certainly one of the factors making the hydraulic block well-suited for 3D printing. But there were several other reasons behind the choice. The hydraulic block needs to withstand a harsh environment, exposed to both saltwater and corrosive drilling fluid. Enhanced corrosion resistance would therefore be desirable. But crafting the block using traditional methods, with anything other than surface-treated aluminium, would be far too heavy and costly. Yet another incentive for adopting a new manufacturing method was Totech’s challenge with extreme delivery times for components, occasionally reaching up to 400 working days.  

"We have now had the opportunity to carefully consider the design of the block and eliminate quite a few components, making it better, smaller, and more agile. Printing it in stainless steel provides a significant advantage due to its heightened resistance. If we had produced the old block in stainless steel, it likely would have weighed approximately 15 kilograms. However, the newly printed block weighs only 2.4 kilograms, just a third of the weight of the current block," says Tommy Tveter. 

The 3D printed hydraulic block. Photo: Rasmus Gunnerek, Chalmers.

Seeing multiple applications

During the final stages of the project, the hydraulic block was successfully printed at Chalmers University of Technology. Totech’s involvement in 3D-Action has opened up a new chapter for the company. They've received a research and development grant from the Västra Götaland Region to extend their exploration into additive manufacturing. Tommy Tveter and Robert Aronsson are optimistic and aspire to print additional components in the future, surpassing the qualities of their conventionally manufactured counterparts. 

"While the printed block is associated with hydraulics, we're also involved in pneumatics. Pneumatics doesn't entail lengthy lead times, but it demands a considerable amount of assembly time. Currently, we have to machine an aluminium box to house everything, as pneumatic components aren't designed for corrosive environments. The production of the box comes with costs, including hoses and other materials. I believe we could potentially 3D print a significant portion of this instead," says Robert Aronsson and continues: 

"This marks our path forward. By 3D printing components, we gain increased flexibility and the capability to produce items that would be challenging to make using conventional manufacturing methods. It might even open avenues for accomplishing things that would otherwise be deemed impossible."

The project was an enabler

According to Tommy Tveter and Robert Aronsson, participation in 3D-Action has been crucial for the progress they have made in 3D printing.  

"If not for the project, we wouldn't have undertaken this. The chance to collaborate on ideas with IUC Väst and RISE, along with visiting the AM facility in Mölndal, has been indispensable. Surveying the various printing methods and examining the produced parts as we walked around allowed us to grasp the realm of possibilities," states Tommy Tveter. 

For other small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with products that might be suitable for 3D printing, Tommy Tveter and Robert Aronsson offer the following advice: 

"Courage is essential. Success isn't guaranteed, but without trying, you'll never find out. Paying a visit to the Application Center of Additive Manufacturing is highly beneficial for gaining insights into the techniques, possibilities, and available resources. As you explore and observe, you can connect everything to your own business, that's when innovative ideas emerge. While many may associate 3D printing with hobby use, its capabilities extend far beyond that perception."

Facts about hydraulics

Hydraulics derives from the Greek words húdōr meaning "water" and aulós meaning "pipe". Hydraulics is the liquid counterpart of pneumatics, which originates from the Greek word pneuma meaning "wind" or "breath," and concerns gases.

About 3D-Action 

The 3D-Action project (active from 2021 to 2023) was run by RISE in collaboration with Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborgs Tekniska College, IDC West, IUC Sweden, IUC Sjuhärad and IUC Väst. Its primary objective was to raise awareness and knowledge about additive manufacturing and its benefits for small and medium-sized companies in the Västra Götaland region. 3D-Action was funded by the European Regional Development Fund, and the Västra Götaland region (VGR).

Based on the experiences from 3D-Action, RISE and partners launched the project 3D-Action 2.0 in January 2024. Are you looking to expand your knowledge of 3D printing, or in need of assistance transitioning to additive manufacturing? Learn more about the project here.

About the Application Center for Additive Manufacturing

The Application Center for Additive Manufacturing is open to all industries, businesses and public sectors interested in exploring additive manufacturing. RISE provides expertise, test environments, and a wide range of equipment and materials to find the most suitable path for each company and product. This means that even small and medium-sized companies can have quick and easy access to the latest technology. The center offers services such as:

  • Design for additive manufacturing
  • Material and process development
  • Post-processing and quality assurance
  • New businesses and business models

Visit the Application Center for Additive Manufacturing

Marie-Louise Bergholt

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Marie-Louise Bergholt

Director Application Center for Additive Manufacturing

+46 10 516 60 85

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Lina Noväng

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Lina Noväng


+46 10 722 33 71

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