On a screen at TCT Show, a man could be seen flying over fields and vast stretches of water in a body-controlled jet engine powered suit looking like a real-life Iron Man. But unlike the movies, the only special effects in play here are those of clever bionic design-for-manufacturing.
The getup, an all-black, almost biker-come-spaceman Jet Suit, features two lightweight turbine arm mounts, both 3D printed in aluminium in just three parts and enable the wearer to achieve record-breaking speeds. The company is called Gravity Industries and is just one of many customers German industrial 3D printing leader, EOS is inspiring with its additive solutions and consulting arm.
Applications across automotive, medical, and of course, the wacky and wonderful, were the key focus for EOS at TCT Show this year. After launching its latest system, the EOS M 300-4 at IMTS just a few weeks earlier, the company wasn’t simply there to plug its latest hardware but rather show visitors what is possible with AM.
“You need to have a business plan to buy a machine,” Dr. Jose Greses, Regional Director at EOS explained. “That’s why we’re supporting our customers, giving them ideas and sure they also bring a lot of ideas on their own but sometimes they don’t know how that would work with additive manufacturing. We have a responsibility to grow them, support them and take them by the hand all the way until the final product is ready for production.”
As in life, it’s often the journey, not the destination, that counts, and EOS has identified four key steps in the customer’s process; finding your application, development, ramp up and certification, which are key to successful adoption. Starting with its entry-level EOS M 100 metal system which was on-hand on the booth, application needs range from those small introductory systems all the way to full-scale production.
“Our classic lines of machines are very flexible but when it comes to serial production, which is what we are aiming at, companies need machines which are automated, integrated with other machines for post processing, they need higher productivity and higher quality control and so on,” Greses commented. “With the M 300-4, we are exactly targeting all those pockets.”
The M 300-4 is a multi-laser direct metal laser sintering system intended to be a “futureproof” automation-ready, scalable platform. It boasts a 300 x 300 x 400 mm build volume and its four lasers are able to overlap and reach every millimetre of that build plate. The machine can run 24/7 and features novel permanent filter system which eliminates the need for sporadic filter changes. Future-thinking, the system is also compatible with EOS Shared Modules, an Industry 4.0 concept first showcased two years ago, which connects the unpacking, transportation and sieving phases of the manufacturing workflow.
The last 12 months have seen several hardware launches and materials and software partnerships for the company, namely with Evonik and Siemens NX. At Formnext last November, EOS unveiled the EOS P 500, a polymer production system offering low cost per part (30% less than the EOS P 396) and faster builds due to a dual-laser system and new re-coater. There has been a delay in the P 500 roll-out but customers, including Materialise and Sintavia, are already lined up. It has since also introduced the EOS P 810 tested with Boeing and the FORMIGA P 110 Velocis with 20% increased productivity and at this year’s Formnext, debuted its LaserProFusion polymer 3D printing. The technology is being presented as an alternative to injection moulding and sees nearly a million diode laser melting materials to build parts layer by layer. EOS claims users will be able to produce a small part in just 7 seconds and millions of parts per year.
Following a relocation to new hardware production facilities in Maisach-Gerlinden at the start of this year, EOS set itself an ambitious target of manufacturing 1,000 3D printers a year. With a current install base of around 3,000 EOS systems worldwide, is the demand there?
“We are preparing ourselves to be able to deliver those 1,000 machines per year,” Greses added. “I believe the demand is there if we fulfil certain requirements and these two machines are aiming to fulfil those requirements.”