3D Printing

Autonomous vehicles drive 3D printing factory of the future and Industry 4.0

Concept Laser plan to realize the ‘AM factory of tomorrow’ through a collaboration with KUKA group’s Swisslog. Swisslog have helped Concept Laser create an Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) for use in their M Line Factory aspPart of Concept Laser’s claim to be the first metal additive manufacturer to embrace automated solutions in their industry 4.0 vision. The Selective Laser Melting company, having recently been acquired by General Electric, will now be able to automate their metal printing process.

Swisslog's warehouse and distribution solutions. Image via Swisslog.
An example of Swisslog’s warehouse and distribution solutions. Image via Swisslog.

Drawing on there considerable experience in the automation of material flow, Swisslog are also a global leader in automated solutions for warehouse and distribution centers. Swisslog have provided Concept Laser with an autonomous vehicle that can transport parts from different machines in a chain as pictured below.

Graphic showing production method in the 'AM Factory of tomorrow'. Image via Concept Laser
Graphic showing production method in the ‘AM Factory of tomorrow’. Image via Concept Laser

Dr. Christian Baur, CEO of Swisslog’s Warehouse and Distribution Solutions division, is enthusiastic about the project and said, “With this collaboration we see the opportunity to implement our highly efficient automated solutions for smart logistics networks in production.” While, Head of Research & Development at Concept Laser, Dr. Florian Bechmann added,

The ambitious concept of the M Line Factory ensures a high level of automation and flexibility in 3D metal printing. The AGV system from Swisslog is the next stage in the development toward consistent automation of the processes embracing the basic idea of ‘Industry 4.0.’

Gif shows the AGV in action at Formnext. Images from TCT Magazine.  

The goal is eliminate the need for machine units to be located directly next to one another in order to work in collaboration. This will save time, money and increase general efficiency. Furthermore, through the AGV device Concept Laser plan to realize Industry 4.0 demands for automation and technical assistance. The AGV devices being able to autonomously perform tasks that would be unsuitable for humans. Perhaps Tangible Solutions may look to implement this AGV after recently acquiring multiple Concept Laser machines.

Featured image shows Concept Laser and Swiss Log Automated Vehicle at Formnext 2016. Photo by Michael Petch.