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Epiroc and SSAB will expand their partnership to explore possibilities for using fossil-free steel when manufacturing spare parts and components.

The two companies have created a prototype of a hydraulic block for a mining rock drill using additive technology. Additive manufacturing eliminates six potential points of leakage compared to traditional manufacturing.

The hydraulic block also has the potential to improve the flow of the hydraulic oil, avoiding sharp edges.

In the next step of the process, the companies will experiment with fossil-free steel powder.

“Production and shipping of spare parts are interesting areas for us to explore going forward,” Epiroc engineering manager Anders Flodman said.

“There is a lot of potential in many ways, we can decrease lead times, increase availability, cut-cost on transportation and most important of all – reduce our environmental footprint.

“In addition to this very interesting project, we also have a number of different initiatives in the pipeline to further explore and improve how we manufacture spare parts.”

The prototype has been produced in a steel powder facility newly opened by SSAB in Oxelösund, Sweden and will decrease both the amount of raw material and the final weight.

“As rock drills are positioned far out on the feed of the drill rig the weight has a substantial impact and new technology opens the possibility to create stronger components without affecting the balance of the machine,” Epiroc said in a statement.

“Reduced weight on the feed could also improve the lifetime of other components due to the reduction of stress and load.”