Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Machine Tool Co., Ltd. (MHI) in Ritto, Shiga Prefecture, Japan, has announced the commercialization of a metal 3D printer. Adopting directed energy deposition (DED) technology, the first unit will be delivered to the newly-opened Advanced Monozukuri Prototype Development Center at the Industrial Research Center of Shiga Prefecture. Here it will be used to support new product development, and advances in additive manufacturing.
In a statement from the company, MHI has said, “Going forward, MHI Machine Tool, in collaboration with the Industrial Research Center of Shiga Prefecture, will focus on winning expanded recognition of the metal 3D printer within the manufacturing industry, as well as on developing new applications from the user’s perspective, to make laser machining systems a core entity among its new businesses.”
Keeping Japan additive manufacturing-competitive
Founded in 2015, MHI is a group company of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) which has been in the engineering industry for over 130 years. Covering 400 locations across the globe, this group primarily operates within Power Systems, Industry & Infrastructure, and Aircraft, Defense & Space domains.
The new DED system, named LAMDA, has been in development at the company for several years, with the first prototype unit presented in October 2017. Collaborating with MHI on the development are Japan’s public R&D company, the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), and the Technology Research Association for Future Additive Manufacturing (TRAFAM) set up to help make the nation competitive within the 3D printing industry.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries LAMDA machine specifications
The first LAMDA machine available from MHI is the LAMDA 200. Dubbed an “entry level” machine by TRAFAM, the 200 has a relatively small build area measuring 200 x 200 x 200 mm.
A further two versions of the machine, the LAMDA 500 and LAMDA 2000, have already been planned by the company, with respective build areas measuring 500 x 500 x 500 mm and 2500 x 1400 x 1500 mm. Each of the machines can be configured to use 1, 2, 4 or 6 kW lasers as required, and can feed material from up to two powder hoppers.
Now the first machine can be put to practical use, MHI is now developing monitoring feedback capabilities for the range, helping to stabilize the process. The company is also reportedly working on “a shielding function necessary for manufacturing titanium alloys, etc. used in the aircraft and space fields.”
Directed energy deposition at Mitsubishi
DED is a technology especially suited to the repair of components and the production of large components. It can also be used to make bi-metallic structures. As such, MHI states, “Significant expansion of applications is anticipated through innovations during the processing phase and combined use with other machine tools.”
In Tokyo Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, another faction of the sprawling Mitsubishi Group, is also developing a DED machine using so-called “dot forming” technology. This system is not expected for commercialization until 2021.
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Featured image shows the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Machine Tool Co. LAMDA DED machine taken from the official product brochure. Image via Technology Research Association for Future Additive Manufacturing (TRAFAM)