German multinational engineering and technology company Bosch has introduced a new subsidiary, Ceres iAM, a startup geared towards providing additively manufactured plastic parts in injection molding quality, specifically for small batch production.
The company combines the benefits of both 3D printing and injection molding in its patented Ceres iAM technology, in order to produce plastic parts more efficiently compared to conventional manufacturing processes. By doing so, Ceres iAM aims to “extend the additive manufacturing abilities” to match the increasing requirement for industrial plastic parts.
The company will begin production of its parts in 2020, where it expects the successful implementation of its additive manufacturing technology.
Combining the benefits of additive manufacturing and injection molding
Ceres iAM is based in the Bosch main plant for plastic parts near Stuttgart, where the company builds and develops its own additive manufacturing systems and technology. This includes its ‘Digital AM cluster’, a network of 3D printers based on Ceres iAM’s patented technology.
In a video provided by the company explaining the foundation on which it operates, Ceres iAM comments on the reservation of injection molding for mass production, and the suitability of additive manufacturing for small batch production and special solutions. The video states how there is a demand for low unit number solutions, where manufacturers seek to make part-to-part adjustments during prototype development, with reduced development time and manufacturing costs.
Although additive manufacturing is an already time and cost-efficient method for specialized production, the company states that current technologies cannot keep up with the “constantly increasing requirements” for production parts. Using its Digital AM cluster, Ceres iAM plans to additively manufacture industrial plastic parts with mechanical properties resembling injection molded parts, while remaining short-term and cost-effective.
The benefits to the client, according to CeresiAM, include a reduced development time, with improved sampling lead time, for production parts. Costs are saved for the manufacturing of industrial plastic parts in small batches as the company’s technology negates the need for expensive tools required in traditional manufacturing methods. Parts can be produced with complex geometries, and soon the company will provide components made from reinforced PA6, and there are plans for the integration of electronics within parts from 2021.
Additive manufacturing at Bosch
Founded in 1886, Bosch has established itself as a leading global supplier of various technology and services, distributed across four sectors: mobility solutions, industrial technology, consumer goods, and energy and building technology. Its new startup, Ceres iAM, represents a continued effort into developing its additive manufacturing technology and output.
Another subsidiary of the company, Bosch Rexroth, has made previous inroads in additive manufacturing. It established a development partnership with German FDM/FFF 3D printer manufacturer BigRep in 2018, which lead to the production of BigRep’s new 3D printer, the 5G and IoT equipped BigRep PRO.
Most recently, in July 2019, Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH (RBVC), which is the corporate venture capital company of Bosch, invested in on demand manufacturing marketplace Xometry. Joining its Series D funding round, Bosch’s investment brought Xometry’s total amount raised in the round to $55 million.
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