Digital Metal, a metal AM system manufacturer, has launched a fully automated production concept.
The Swedish company is the manufacturer of the DM P2500 metal 3D printer, a binder jetting metal additive system that has demonstrated the capacity to make highly detailed components at resolutions to 35 µm. A secondary sintering process is required to remove binders.
Digital Metal says that its metal AM systems have already produced over 300,000 components. Furthermore, several systems are operating in serial production to produce series in the region of 40,000 parts.
The company will now add automation to the production process.
“Most AM technologies show a very low level of automation”, explained Ralf Carlström, General Manager at Digital Metal. “Our aim is to change that. With the new no-hand production line, our customers can further improve their productivity and lower the production costs. Almost all manually intensive work can be eliminated and in addition the powders removed in the cleaning machine can be recirculated in the process, thus minimizing waste. As we see it, the Digital Metal technology is now applicable for serial production of high-volume components.”
Automating additive manufacturing for industrialization
Digital Metal says that a large number of the process steps will be taken care of by a robot. This will, “eliminate practically all manual work thus further increasing productivity.”
The automated processes includes a robot to load and remove the build chambers from the 3D printer and pass these build boxes to a post-processing stage. During post-processing automation of powder removal is performed using a CNC de-powdering machine and a pick-and-place robot.
Once surplus metal powder is removed it is sent for recycling, while the green parts are added to sintering plates by the robot. These plates are then automatically sent to the debinding and sintering stage.
“We believe there is a huge potential for our unique technology,” says Ralf Carlström. “Not only is it very fast and cost-effective, it is also able to create complicated and highly detailed designs with wide material choice.”
Digital Metal is working with a number of enterprises including, Honeywell, Koenigsegg, Mectron, Montfort Watches, CETIM (the French Technical Center for Mechanical Industries) and Volvo.
As part of the Höganäs Group, Digital Metal has access to its parent companies expertise as the the world’s largest producer of metal powders.
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Featured image shows Digital Metal 3D printed figures. Photo by Michael Petch.