The 3rd day at SME Rapid started with a keynote of William Warren on 3D Bio-printing. The essence was that there won’t be any complex organs likes hearts or kidneys be printed very soon. Though no real MINI-MEs in the near future but a lot hope for skin cancer patients and victims of accidents as there are developments on tissue engineering.
The best presentation I saw on Wednesday was held by Jason Jones from Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies. I have met Jason through work before and it was interesting to hear about HMT the latest developments. Jasons company offers a laser deposition head (cladding head) that can be changed from the tool-mag into the chuck of a CNC-machining center. The benefit of this hybrid-process is less handling of the workpiece through machine changes, higher accuracy through less clamping and getting simply the best of two worlds AM & CNC. Being familiar with the technology I really enjoyed the presentation. Jason provided a helicopter view on the process and it’s applications. Not just talking about the Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies products but also shedding light on the developments of other players in the market.
The conference The sessions for Wednesday were the following:
– Medical Manufacturing Innovations III & IV – 3D Scanning / Imaging I&II – Direct Write Printed Materials and Electronics I & II – Process Applications for Additive Manufacturing I &II – Manufacturing Applications I – Standard & Compliance
Each of this sessions is a stream of presentations of about half an hour each. Being interested in different streams means you have to hop from one conference room to another and that’s what I did.
I choose the following sessions for Wednesday: “Hybrid CNC + Additive: Two heads are better than One” “Additive Manufacturing and Multi-Axis machining” “3D printing Continuous Fiber Composites (Carbon Fiber, Kevlar, Glass Fiber)” “Real-time close loop control of Laser Metal Additive Manufacturing” “Developing Quality & Safety Infrastructure for Additive Manufacturing”
The exhibition floor
I had a chat with Shannon Van Deren, the business development manager at LINEAR Mold. LINEAR Mold is a service bureau operating currently 14 laser-based direct metal systems from different suppliers. I was mainly talking to service bureaus, machine manufacturers and powder suppliers. Cutting a long story short was that everyone agreed that business is very good.
This machine combines a laser based powder bed process with CNC machining. This enables to create with CNC surface finish also on internal channels of the parts built.
According to Matsuura there are currently (May 2015) about 40 systems in the market, predominantly in Japan but also two in the US.
Höganäs the Swedish metal powder specialist showed that it does not always take a laser to produce high definition metal parts. Höganäs presented a technology called DigitalMetal® a powder bed binder infusion process. Höganäs is offering the process as an in-house job shop service and is also licensing the technology except to service providers.
So far the only material available is stainless steel but materials as titanium, silver and copper are close to commercialisation.
Written by Matthias Bringezu