3D Printers

Taiwanese machining leader using Optomec additive manufacturing with CNC

Tongtai Machine & Tool Co. (TPE:4526) in Taiwan are integrating Optomec’s LENS Print Engine into a new line of hybrid additive manufacturing and CNC milling machines. With existing expertise in both fields Chairman Yen Jui-Hsiung of Tongtai explains the agreement as follows,

The brand recognition for LENS along with Optomec’s successful track record in metal additive manufacturing were key factors in our decision to integrate the LENS Print Engine into our machines. Our partnership with Optomec will enable our customers to cost-effectively integrate this functionality into their manufacturing processes.

The Tongtai AMH-350 Additive Manufacturing-Hybrid with Optomec LENS
The Tongtai AMH-350 (Additive Manufacturing-Hybrid) with Optomec LENS

LENS hybrid technology  

Optomec are a company based in New Mexico that specialise in 3D printed electronics and metal additive manufacturing. In addition to making 3D printers, the company has adapted components to be compatible with vintage CNC machines, so companies can easily integrate additive manufacturing into their existing systems.

This concept was explained by Optomec’s Ken Vartanian, in an interview with 3D Printing Industry editor-in-chief Michael Petch,

The distinction with Optomec is that we have been focused on volume manufacturing and how we bring additive manufacturing to volume production and mass production almost from our outset.

LENS technology from Optomec is a method of 3D printing that uses a laser to melt metal powders.

Powder bed is better at making complex geometric shapes and smaller size parts. The LENS process is better at making larger parts or for adding materials to existing components.

Laser Engineered Net Shaping (LENS) in a hybrid Optomec machine. Clip via Optomec on YouTube

To retrofit a CNC machine, the LENS Print Engine adds 5 modular components: print heads, powder feeders, tool path software and motion & process controls. By integrating these components into the new line Dave Ramahi, president and CEO of Optomec comments,

The new Tongtai hybrid additive manufacturing machine will lower costs to accelerate industrial adoption of metal additive manufacturing in Asia.

Sprayed electronics

In addition to LENS technology, Optomec have the Aerosol Jet Process that 3D prints electronics. The Aerosol Jet Process works by spraying electric inks in layers onto a given surface. The technology helps to lower the cost of traditional manufacturing processes used to make things such as mobile antennas and touch screen displays.

3D Printing Industry's Michael Petch demonstrates Optomec's 3D printed electronics to NATO during Allied Command Transformation event in Virginia.
3D Printing Industry’s Michael Petch demonstrates Optomec’s 3D printed electronics to NATO during Allied Command Transformation event in Virginia.

As of 1988, Tongtai count themselves amongst the first companies in the world make printed circuit boards (PCBs). Though currently focusing on the metal additive manufacturing area, harnessing Optomec’s Aerosol Jet Process could be one development for the future of the two companies.

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Featured image shows metal additive manufacturing at Tongtai. Photo via tongtaigroup on Facebook