Two years is a long time in business, but for this company it has seen the launch of its flagship post-processing system, the evolution of the technology that powers it, an expansion into North America, and in Q2 of 2019, it prepares for the introduction of an additional product.
AMT’s patent-pending PostPro3D machine was made commercially available last autumn, ahead of its trade show debut in Frankfurt. It was being deployed in factories on both sides of the Atlantic before the year was out, and will soon be in China too.
It is an automation-ready surface-finishing machine, boasting a process chamber of 600 x 400 x 400 mm, process run time of between 90-120 minutes, and is priced at between 80-100,000 GBP, depending on the scale of smart tech integration required by the customer. BLAST, or Boundary Layer Automated Smoothing Technology, is the technology developed from University of Sheffield’s pUSH process, and promises closed loop controllable and repeatable smoothing. It can be used to enhance the aesthetics and performance of parts and also to better functionalise them, adding glossiness, colour, textures or eliminating failure initiation sites on the surface.
“It means that you have a machine that can easily erase the ‘stair-stepping’ of 3D printed parts without tumbling, media blasting, or any of the traditional manual and pseudo-automated labour-intensive methods,” explains Joseph Crabtree, CEO, AMT. “It means that you can add value, increasing the look, feel, and the performance of parts in minutes and with a minimal impact on their production cost.”
The proprietary technology also boasts proficiency in removing porosity and sealing parts. When its chemical consumable agent, in gas form and under controlled temperature and pressure, comes into contact with a given material, the material is changed from solid to liquid. In powder processes, partially sintered particles at the surface get dissolved, and in extrusion processes, there is a self-levelling and healing effect that fills gaps between layers. For a company targeting the automotive, aerospace, medical and consumer markets, these are important capabilities. Supplementing the PostPro3D’s proficiencies is its UL certification, a first for the post-processing market, which remarks the machine as repeatable at scale. But AMT not only wants to deliver a functional, future-ready system into the aforementioned verticals, the company’s guiding principle is safety and sustainability.
“As we scale to true industrial additive manufacturing, it is critical that we have safety and sustainability at the cornerstone of everything we do,” Crabtree said. “We are developing all our systems to have zero waste [or] effluent, [and be] automated and power efficient. In addition, we are launching a range of Engineered ‘Green’ Solvent consumables that we have been developing in conjunction with the University of Sheffield and our team of chemists. We challenge other companies that call themselves innovative to change their methods of make.”
Meanwhile, AMT is looking to expand its own offering to the industry too. The company is currently setting up an innovation centre in Austin, TX, which will act as its North American headquarters and offer a benchmarking service, similar to its facility in Sheffield, UK which offers a 24-hour turnaround on parts.
Then, there’s the new product, PostPro Mini. When AMT brought the PostPro3D to market last year, Crabtree and his team aimed it towards larger industrial end users, those more likely to have AM machines running around the clock manufacturing end-use products. The PostPro3D Mini is a scaled down version, developed in parallel with the original, offering a process chamber a third of the size at a price between 20-30,000 GBP.
Its launch is imminent, and contrary to the tech, AMT won’t be finished there.