voxeljet’s James Reeves announces automotive additive manufacturing production line

Industrial 3D printer manufacturer voxeljet is working on an additive manufacturing production line for the automotive industry.

The so-termed “VJET X-IOB” system is reportedly “ten times faster” than the company’s currently available 3D printers, with full integrated pre and post processing capabilities.

Speaking to James Reeves, Managing Director at voxeljet UK who broke the news, I learn more about the V-JET X-IOB and its potential to reach truly mass, 3D printed production levels.

Line of voxeljet VX1000 3D printers. Photo via voxeljet
Line of voxeljet VX1000 3D printers. Photo via voxeljetvoxeljet

voxeljet’s mission

voxeljet is the manufacturer of the VX range of additive manufacturing systems. Applying binder jet based 3D printing technology, including High Speed Sintering (HSS), VX systems are capable of working with sand, plastics and ceramics.

According to Reeves, “voxeljet’s mission has always been to replace convention manufacturing with new technical developments. We have always led in terms of throughput, productivity and quantities, this has resulted in an increasing demand from our Global customer base for higher volume capabilities.”

Higher volume in particular is in significant demand as the technology attempts to move towards industrialization. In recent years, a number of projects have been launched in attempt to ramp up additive production, and integrate more automation into the process. Such efforts include Next Gen AM from Premium AEROTEC, EOS and Daimler, and the Stratasys Infinite Build system.

Reeves adds:

“We therefore set ourselves a strategic R&D challenge to develop a system that is both capable and cost effective to print >100k parts.”

Full end to end, automated additive manufacturing

More than simply multiple voxeljet 3D printers in a line, VJET X-IOB is concerned with the singular productivity of the machines themselves.

“We took a fundamental look at all the steps in our process and identified opportunities for innovation,” explains Reeves, “This has resulted in printers that are running 10 times faster than our current printers and, along with partners, we have automated post processing to take out the manual interventions.”

The result is a complete end to end additive manufacturing system, producing a high volume of parts.

Nested turbine impellers, ready for 3D printing inside the VX220 system. Image via voxeljet
Nested turbine impellers, ready for 3D printing inside a VX220 system. Image via voxeljet

3D printing production for automotive

The VJET X-IOB production line has been developed for the initial purpose of producing casts for critical engine components.

When, eventually, further details are released, Reeves expects to see “significant interest from automotive and aerospace customers in this production system” as “these markets are already well invested in AM and they have been waiting for such a system to make production viable.”

Across automotive, a great deal of effort is being applied to the development of additive manufacturing solutions. Recently, BMW Group invested €10 million to establish a specialist Additive Manufacturing Campus, and the technology is improving invaluable to saving thousands of dollars in tooling production.

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Featured image shows a line of voxeljet VX1000 3D printers. Photo via voxeljet