3D Printers

Additive Industries and SMS group developing additive manufacturing for production system

Additive Industries will work with SMS group to develop and market a metal 3D printing system capable of  industrial-scale, serial production of parts of high reproducible quality.”

The SMS group has approximately 13,500 employees and a sales figure of EUR 3 billion. The companies in the group work in in plant construction and mechanical engineering for the steel and nonferrous metals industry.

When 3D Printing Industry visited Additive Industries Eindhoven HQ earlier this year we got a closer look at the module system, that at the time was configured to use two powder bed build chambers. Additive Industries aim to become one of the top 3 companies in the 3D printing industry by 2022.

A plant concept from Additive Industries and SMS Group.
A plant concept from Additive Industries and SMS Group.

Automating advanced manufacturing

During formnext 2017 Additive Industries unveiled the Product Removal Module for the MetalFAB1 additive manufacturing system. The module automates the removal of metal 3D prints from the build plate, using a saw to separate the component from the plate. The build plate is then delivered back into the MetalFAB1 system for reuse.

Additive Industries Product Removal Module. Photo by Michael Petch.
Additive Industries Product Removal Module. Photo by Michael Petch.

The partnership brings together expertise in both core additive manufacturing technologies: the manufacture of metal powder and 3D printing. It is the intention to create a system that “will not just encompass powder manufacturing and 3D printing but other stages, too, right up to delivery of the finished component.”

Norbert Gober, Vice President Research and Development at SMS group said, “As one of the world’s leading machine and plant builders for the metallurgical industry, we have extensive design know-how and process engineering expertise in the field of vacuum melting plants. We are now transferring this expertise to powder production plants.”

Additive Industries METALFAB1 full build space mesh gird. Photo by Michael Petch.
Additive Industries METALFAB1 full build space mesh gird. Photo by Michael Petch.

Accelerating industrial additive manufacturing

Daan A.J. Kersten, CEO of Additive Industries, added: “Five years ago, we started with the development of the world’s first 3D metal printer for high-end production applications. Today, with our MetalFAB1, we are accelerating industrial additive manufacturing as one of the industry’s leading technology suppliers. In SMS group we have found a partner who has experience in planning production complexes such as these and delivering them on a turnkey basis.”

Taking their starting point as powder production, alloys are induction-melted under vacuum. The resulting liquid metal is then atomized with argon. Markus Hüllen, Vice President 3D Competence Center at SMS group, said, “The quality of the powder manufactured is crucial for the quality of the finished product. To enable us to make faster progress in powder production, we are building an industrial-scale pilot system, which is scheduled to go live at the end of the year,”

While the project is currently at the concept stage, within the coming months a Democenter will be establish in Mönchengladbach, Germany at SMS’s facility.  Norbert Gober said, “This Democenter will allow us to align the powder plant with its process guidance system perfectly with the printer and its parameters. We will then be able to apply this practical experience on an industrial scale and offer this as a turnkey solution to high-end users.”

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Featured image shows from right to left: Guido Kleinschmidt (Member of the Managing Board of SMS group); Norbert Gober (Vice President Research and Development, SMS group); Daan A.J. Kersten (CEO, Additive Industries); Markus Hüllen (Vice President 3D Competence Center, SMS group) and Bernhard Steenken (Corporate Development, SMS group).