Addihive’s PowderLoop: the missing link in additive manufacturing powder management?

Addihive, based in County Limerick, Ireland, is a startup with a potential solution for facility-wide management of additive manufacturing powders. The company was founded in 2017, and has now been recognized as a nominee in the 2018 Irish Times Innovation Awards for “proven originality, market/user impact, project management and the potential for sustainability.”

Patrick Byrnes, research and business development manager at Addihive, says, “Our mission is to streamline, complement and scale the additive process with our customer base through the implementation of proprietary technology and market-leading solutions,”

“We had seen a relatively strong push on the marketing and uptake in additive manufacturing equipment with multinational customers, but nobody seemed to cater for the pre- and post-process ecosystem and we created a number of innovations to exponentially improve environmental health and safety, overall equipment efficiency and process quality.”

The PowderLoop system

Addihive’s patent pending technology is in development for the PowderLoop system. In company media, PowderLoop is depicted as a series of boxes attached to the top of metal additive manufacturing systems. Connected by a network of pipes, each of these systems lead back to a central control unit, giving real-time readings of batch quality, automated sieving and powder removal – ultimately limiting material wastage. It is a closed loop system, promising no compromise on floorspace.

At present, PowderLoop appears only as a concept system. Addihive is still developing proprietary processes, large scale quality management systems, and 24/7 automation. Byrnes explains, “We have been in operation since January 2017 with a team of three engineers and, to date, we have developed a number of patent-pending innovations across pre- and post-processing platforms.”

Realtime powder life management representation. Image via Addihive
Realtime powder life management representation. Image via Addihive

Addihive and Croom Precision Medical

According to the company bio, the Addihive team has experience across both “medical and aerospace additive industries.” Byrnes himself is a former additive manufacturing engineer for new product innovation at leading medical technology firm Stryker. In addition to his role at Addihive, Byrnes is also in charge of Research and Development at device manufacturer Croom Precision Medical.

Addihive is co-located on Croom’s premises, earning it FDA registration, ISO medical device quality certification (ISO 13485:2012, ISO 9001, ISO 14001) and certification from Japan’s Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency (PMDA).

Founded in 1984, Croom has an existing research development and innovation partnership with UK metal additive manufacturing provider Renishaw, that shares an expertise in medical. Croom is also in a partnership with the newly-formed I-Form Advanced Manufacturing Research Center for 3D printing and digital technologies.

It will be interesting to see where Addihive goes next with its PowderLoop technology. As noted at this year’s 3D printing trade shows, automation and end-use production is a key theme of innovation throughout the industry.

Process monitoring values. Image via Addihive
Process monitoring values. Image via Addihive

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Featured image shows representation of the PowderLoop system in an additive manufacturing facility. Image via Addihive