Dutch metal 3D printer supplier Additive Industries has entered into a partnership to accelerate the implementation of laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) for industrial series production. In this partnership, the company will work together with Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT and the Fraunhofer Project Center at the University of Twente ([email protected]) in the Netherlands, taking a holistic approach to materials development, design guidelines and post-processing. The aim is to encourage LPBF integration with existing industrial process chains.
“Our collaboration will lead to new solutions that will help industry to improve their AM activities in the field of L-PBF on a fast-track,” predicts Kai Winands, head of the Additive Manufacturing competence field at Fraunhofer IPT.
Industrial scale additive manufacturing
The MetalFab1 is Additive Industries’ flagship product. An entirely modular machine, the system has units for each respective part of the additive manufacturing process. Up to four of the optional modules can be AM cores dedicated to production of parts, the further four are for heat treatment, product removal, storage and exchange. Applied in each high value vertical (aerospace, automotive and medical) some of the MetalFab1’s most notable users include Alfa Romeo F1 Racing, Volkswagen, and an unnamed aerospace company based in California that recently raised its machine count to ten. According to Ian Gibson, Scientific director of the [email protected], “The MetalFab1
is in my view the first metal printer that has been designed from the bottom up with
industrial scale manufacturing in mind.”
Keeping track of the metal 3D printing process
Fraunhofer IPT is a key partner for industry looking to disseminate astute high-tech solutions to the manufacturing process. In 3D printing, this has included the support of fiber-reinforced plastics production, and the industrial implementation of digital engineering and additive manufacturing (IDEA) project from the German government. Set up for a similar purpose, the [email protected] “supports industry in application-oriented system solutions” including Industry 4.0 audits, life sciences engineering and additive manufacturing. It was also launched by Fraunhofer to expand the institute’s activities in the Benelux countries.
Each part of the process chain, both included in the MetalFab1 and peripheral to it, will be accounted for in this collaboration between the experienced partners. “In this way,” Daan Kersten, founder and CEO of Additive Industries, explains, “we can cover the entire field of industrial requirements from materials science, additive processes and post-processing to integration into existing processes. Because we know that it is particularly difficult for manufacturing companies to keep track of all this themselves.”
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Featured image shows from left to right: Jan-Cees Santema (Additive Industries), Kristian Arntz (Fraunhofer IPT), Daan Kersten (Additive Industries), Biba Visnjicki ([email protected]), Kai Winands (Fraunhofer IPT), Ian Gibson ([email protected]), Maurice Herben (Fraunhofer IPT), Harry Dirrigl (Additive Industries), Harry Kleijnen (Additive Industries) Photo via Fraunhofer IPT