Metal 3D printing company, Digital Metal, has announced it is taking its high precision binder jetting technology to the next level by launching a fully automated “no-hand” production concept.
Automation is a growing trend in the additive manufacturing industry as major players such as 3D Systems, EOS and GE Additive incorporate robotics and smart factory concepts to automate various steps of the manufacturing workflow.
For Digital Metal, which specialises in producing high resolution, detailed parts, the majority of the process steps will be handled by a robot to eliminate the bulk of manual work and increase productivity. The robot will feed the printer with build boxes and then move the boxes for post-treatment in a CNC-operated de-powdering machine combined with a pick-and-place robot. There, the remaining metal powder will be removed and recycled without any degeneration of properties., and the parts placed on sintering plates. The main robot will then move the plates to the sintering furnace for combined debinding and sintering, either in batches or for continuous production.
“Most AM technologies show a very low level of automation”, says Ralf Carlström, General Manager at Digital Metal. “Our aim is to change that. With the new no-hand production line, our customers can further improve their productivity and lower the production costs. Almost all manually intensive work can be eliminated and in addition the powders removed in the cleaning machine can be recirculated in the process, thus minimising waste. As we see it, the Digital Metal technology is now applicable for serial production of high-volume components.”
Digital Metal is starting by introducing automation into the powder removal step using CNC-controlled movements based on data from the printing process.
“We believe there is a huge potential for our unique technology,” says Ralf Carlström. “Not only is it very fast and cost-effective, it is also able to create complicated and highly detailed designs with wide material choice.”
Visitors to formnext 2018 will be able to see Digital Metal’s DM P2500 printers running live on the show floor. The technology, first introduced in 2013 and commercially launched at TCT Show last year, has already enabled production of more than 300,000 components.