Bangalore-based 3D printer OEM Intech Additive Solutions has launched its large-format iFusion LF series of metal 3D printers.
Backed by almost four years of research and development, the laser powder bed fusion range is characterized by its build volume of 450 x 450 x 450mm. Primarily aimed at Indian manufacturers serving the aerospace, automotive, and general engineering sectors, the machines are compatible with a wide variety of metal alloys, including aluminum, steel, Inconel, cobalt chrome, and titanium.
Pradeep Nair, Vice President of Hardware Sales at Intech, states, “Indian companies have a huge interest in 3D printers that build parts larger than 400mm. All these machines must be imported and are prohibitively expensive. There are other issues like long lead times for support and spares, making Indian companies ultimately settle for the less expensive mid-sized machines. The ‘iFusion LF Series’ amply fills this void.”
Metal 3D printing with the iFusion range
The story of Intech is one of pioneering, as the company was the first OEM in its home country to develop and supply metal 3D printers operating on powder bed fusion technology. Apart from the newly released LF series, its proprietary iFusion range comprises two other SLM systems – the iFusion SF1 and the iFusion LFMulti.
The SF1 is the smaller of the two, packing a comparatively modest build volume of 180 x 150mm diameter, and is designed for R&D applications at laboratories and educational institutions. The LFMulti, on the other hand, is a larger-format multi-laser machine designed for the production of end-use industrial components.
Sridhar Balaram, CEO of Intech, adds, “The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has identified Additive Manufacturing (AM) as a critical focus area. The Government plans to promote various AM sector verticals including machines, materials, software, and design methodologies to leverage new and untapped business opportunities. This initiative will prepare the Indian manufacturing sector for Industry 4.0 and evolve an integrated approach towards this emerging technology.”
The new iFusion LF series
The company’s latest PBF range gives users a number of laser options, starting with a single 500W laser at the low end. If needed, customers are able to upgrade to an entire quad-laser configuration with a set of 700W or 1000W devices, making the LF series versatile in its capabilities. Developed and built at Intech’s own in-house facilities, the systems have a heavy focus on automation, with built in powder handling, part removal, and powder sieving functionalities.
Intech’s micro-jet engine R&D subsidiary, Poeir Jets, has already signed an agreement to use the new LF series to manufacture metal parts for its heavy-lift drones, citing the large build chamber, low production costs, and local support availability as key factors.
K.S. Swami, Director of Poeir Jets, concludes, “The 3D printed parts from the iFusion series performed exceptionally well during the testing phases and proved to be of production quality. Intech’s 3D printers helped us achieve the required scale for commercializing manufacturing and ensuring lower cost per part. We are now moving to printing parts on Intech’s LF series of machines.”
While Intech builds its presence in India, Western manufacturers continue to push the limits of large-format metal 3D printing. In the Netherlands, Additive Industries recently announced its new flagship PBF system, the MetalFAB-600, complete with a build volume five times larger than that of its sister model, the MetalFAB1. Set for commercial launch toward the end of 2021, the MetalFAB-600 packs a build volume measuring 600 x 600 x 1000mm.
Elsewhere, 3D printer OEM 3D Systems recently unveiled a number of new details about the “world’s largest metal 3D printer”, which it is developing for the U.S. Army. Featuring nine lasers and a colossal build chamber measuring 1m x 1m x 600mm, the metal system will be used to address the ammunition, ground vehicle, helicopter, and missile defense needs of the Armed Forces.
Looking for a career in additive manufacturing? Visit 3D Printing Jobs for a selection of roles in the industry.
Featured image shows an iFusion LF series 3D printer. Photo via Intech