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IMTS Reflects Additive Advances

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Additive Manufacturing hits the big time

A copper welding arm printed on a Markforged machine. The company has added copper to its roster of available metals for printing.

Over the past decade, IMTS has been a good indicator of the changing status of additive manufacturing. The show’s floor space devoted to 3D printing expanded from 2014 to 2018, reaching pavilion status at the most recent show. It had been scheduled to grow even more at IMTS 2020 before the show’s cancellation.

Additive manufacturing has been expanding from its traditional use for making prototypes to manufacturers looking to use the technology for production parts. 3D printing companies are working with customers to identify parts for production.

Software, Copper Materials

Markforged, Watertown, Mass., is improving its software, intending to make 3D printing more reliable for manufacturers. “We have some new AI (artificial intelligence) software that inspects parts as they are printed,” said Michael Papish, vice president of marketing.

With AI, “there’s a science and a bit of a craft,” he said. “That starts to remove one of the barriers to 3D printing. It helps dial in the process even more.” Traditionally, he said, additive knowledge “gets stored away in engineers’ brains.” AI takes “some of that complicated craft knowledge” and enables it to be used in various applications. The Markforged software creates “a feedback loop and allows the printer to improve. You push the learnings back out into the field.”

Markforged has also added copper to the list of metals it can print. “We’ve had success with auto manufacturers using it,” Papish said.

Markforged has used IMTS to interact with general manufacturers. “We are mixed in with a lot of the machine tool vendors,” said Matthew Balaschi, director of sales. “They are really blown away about how strong our parts are. Holding that part in your hand, it’s a wow factor.”

Broad Portfolio

For 3D Systems, Rock Hill, S.C., IMTS has, in the past, been a forum to show a variety of printers, materials and services. “This is always a very exciting event for 3D systems,” said Herbert Koeck, executive vice president and general manager, global go to market, printers & materials.

A finished aerospace bracket printed on a 3D Systems machine.

The company said it would disclose specific products in September. “We have the broadest portfolio—including materials, hardware, software and services—of any company in the industry,” he said. “Our end-to-end application-specific workflows include all the elements of inspection and production management. We architect bespoke solutions specific to our customers’ needs—creating a path forward to integrating additive manufacturing into traditional production environments.”

The executive said 3D printing “is still a relatively new solution in the industry. Its utility has only recently become a reality.”

Industrial Metal 3D Printer

AMCM, an EOS Group company, is coming out with its AMCM M 4K-1 (single laser) and AMCM M 4K-4 (four laser) industrial DMLS metal 3D printing platforms.

The AMCM M 4K is built on the EOS M 400 platform. Its additional features include increased robustness of the frame design, a new filter system and optional soft re-coating. The machine can produce applications from materials that include aluminum, nickel alloy and copper alloy.

“The AMCM M 4K is a wholly new offering that we have been perfecting for two years,” said Martin Bullemer, managing director of AMCM. “What customers can appreciate is that its underpinnings are that of the EOS M 400 processes—which are the benchmark for metal 3D printing.”

The machine has a build volume of 450 × 450 × 1,000 mm. It is compatible with legacy EOS M 400 Series process parameter sets, according to the company.

Single-Laser Flexible Material Platform

Renishaw is showcasing the RenAM 500E, a single-laser flexible material “explorer” platform using the same optical technology and gas-flow development of the 500Q.

The RenAM 500E is a single-laser flexible material platform.

The 500E “was developed for the customer wishing to have the latest in AM quality production capability in an entry-level platform as well as users that want a machine they can dedicate to research and development activities in support of the 500Q production,” said Kevin Brigden, senior applications engineer for additive manufacturing.

The RenAM 500E is designed to offer value to new users who want a safe starting point to develop their AM skills and understanding, according to the company. It also offers expandability to add sensors and features to create a more advanced system for R&D purposes.

Renishaw says the machine’s key benefits include:

  • It is built on the operational principles of Renishaw’s AM 400 system while incorporating enhancements based on RenAM 500Q technology.
  • Effective gas flow across the powder bed is vital to maintain consistent energy transmission and ensure safety and consistent high-quality processing.
  • The ability to change between different materials aids experimentation and process flexibility.
  • Renishaw’s Fusion optical system integrates with the digital control system to enable multiple processing modes, allowing both modulated processing for fine lattices and detailed features, and continuous processing for higher productivity and the potential to process in thicker layers.

Key features of the machine include:

  • A build volume of 250 x 250 x 350 mm,
  • Vacuum preparation and low argon consumption,
  • System powder handling via the glove box,
  • Class 1 laser safety,
  • Safety integrity level (SIL) rated oxygen sensor, and
  • Patented large SafeChange process emissions filtration.

Social Media Campaign Boosts Metal AM

The ExOne Co., North Huntingdon, Pa., a producer of industrial sand and metal 3D printers using binder jetting technology, has launched a new #MakeMetalGreen social media campaign to educate manufacturers about the sustainability benefits of metal binder jetting technology.

ExOne’s new metal 3D printers, the X1 160Pro (left) and the X1 25Pro feature a charcoal gray metal body, a stainless steel beltline, rounded corners and green lighting below the machine.

According to ExOne, while other forms of 3D printing can deliver some of these benefits, binder jetting is unique among AM processes because it can 3D print parts at high speeds and volumes that make a meaningful difference to long-term sustainability efforts.

“Now is the time for manufacturers to rethink how they manufacture metal parts and take a new look at how binder jet 3D printing can make metal parts and products more sustainable,” said John Hartner, CEO of ExOne. “One important aspect of sustainability is shortening supply chains. Our technology can consolidate several parts into one, eliminating extra manufacturing steps and reducing the need for parts to be shipped around the world for final assembly.”

ExOne currently offers four metal 3D printers that can accommodate applications ranging from R&D and prototyping to various forms of production: Innovent+; M-Flex; X1 25Pro; and X1 160Pro.

ESTANE 3D TPU Grades Available in Ultimaker Marketplace

The Lubrizol Corp., Cleveland, has announced that three ESTANE 3D TPU grades for fused filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printing applications are now available in the Ultimaker Marketplace. The added grades are ESTANE 3D TPU F94A-055 OR HH PL; ESTANE 3DP TPU 98A; and ESTANE 3DP TPU F70D.

Ultimaker B.V., Utrecht, Netherlands and Waltham, Mass., is a developer of desktop 3D printing. It offers a material library called the Marketplace in Ultimaker Cura that allows partner raw material suppliers to upload profiles compatible with Ultimaker printers. Lubrizol says its three ESTANE 3D TPU grades fill demands from Ultimaker’s customers printing FFF applications for industrial jigs and fixtures, prototypes, end-use parts, and flexible parts such as orthopedic insoles.

“Lubrizol’s grades open the door for end-users printing with TPU, ranging from outdoor parts with cold flexibility to parts that require long-term heat performance,” said Bart van As, materials product manager for Ultimaker. “Filaments made from Lubrizol’s ESTANE 3D TPU are among the softest and most flexible materials that can be printed on Ultimaker 3D printers.”

ESTANE 3DP TPU F70D is useful for parts that are prone to rough handling due to its flexibility and all-around mechanical properties, according to Lubrizol.

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