The fully automated factory is coming and few large industrial manufacturers are more ready to embrace this concept than Airbus. No later than one year ago, at Euromold 2014, Mr. Peter Sander, VP of Emerging Technologies & Concepts at Airbus said the company would be producing parts by AM in the order of several tons very soon and that is now happening, especially after the latest agreement with Additive Industries to integrate one of the first MetalFAB systems within Airbus APWorks manufacturing facilities.
The MetalFAB1 machine, officially presented before and during the recent formnext trade show in Frankfurt, embodies the concept of the fully automated, digital, additive, “lights off” factory of the future. It is a machine capable of automatic powder management and part storage, with 10x repeatability, thus limiting any human intervention.
Airbus APWorks is the first confirmed Beta customer for Additive Industries and brings a broad range of experience with metal additive manufacturing. They cover the entire value chain, from optimizing component design to the choice of suitable materials, from prototyping to qualified serial production. Airbus APWorks supplies customers in robotics, mechanical engineering, automotive, medical technology and aerospace.
“We are proud to team up with Airbus as our first customer to further develop the process, new materials and applications as well as verifying the performance of the MetalFAB1 system. Their commitment emphasizes the potential of our new metal additive manufacturing system for industrial series production of functional parts,” said Daan Kersten, co-founder and CEO of Additive Industries.
“With the integrated MetalFAB1 solution, we believe to be able to simultaneously improve the product consistency and lower the cost price for metal additive manufacturing,” added Joachim Zettler, Managing Director of Airbus APWorks. In fact, Airbus has several different metal AM machines already in-house, including EOS, SLM Solutions and especially Concept Laser.
All of these manufacturers are working on or have already presented modular solutions to automate the additive manufacturing process. Netherlands-based Additive Industries is a relatively new player, but its machine is now actively part of the transition to the factory of tomorrow.