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Looking back at formnext 2018

30 November 2018

Four days, hundreds of parts, & the fastest metal 3D printer in the world

Earlier this month, we joined industry leaders and innovators in Frankfurt for formnext 2018, the international AM technology exhibition and conference. Our goal: To share specific examples of the ways in which metal 3D printing is redefining manufacturing.

Hero Formnext Follow Up

More than 500 parts on display highlighted the impact of metal 3D printing on several key applications across multiple industries. Each part told a story about the adaptability of the Studio and Production Systems to meet specific needs—including variations in production volume, complex geometries, mechanical requirements, and even desired surface finish.

    

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ON DISPLAY

The fastest metal 3D printer in the world

On Day 1 of the conference, we announced updates to the Production System, including:

  • Accelerated print speeds up to 12,000 cm3/hr which makes it the fastest metal 3D printer in the world
  • A 225% increase to the build volume (750 x 330 x 250 mm) designed for higher throughput and process efficiency

  

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Other noteworthy developments since introducing the Production System:

  • Two full-width print bars with advanced powder spreaders and an anti-ballistics system work in tandem—spreading metal powder and printing in a single, quick-pass across the build area.

  • A 32,768-nozzle piezo inkjet printhead works with a broad range of binder chemistries to allow for the printing of an array of metals—including tool steels, low alloy steels, titanium, and aluminum—at a rate of 3 billion drops per second.

  • It is the first and only binder jetting system with an industrial inert environment—including gas recycling and solvent recovery—to safely print reactive metals in high volume.

Hundreds of printed parts demonstrated the power of Single Pass Jetting technology for the rapid production of high-quality, complex metal parts at scale:

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Powered by SPJ™

The Production System simplifies per-unit customization in high-mix, high-volume runs. For example, a batch of gears varying in size, number of teeth, and tooth profiles can be printed in a single run.

From Milwaukee Tool, the spauger bit demonstrates the ability to achieve a dramatic reduction in the number of operations required to produce a complex metal part—in this case, from about 20 to 4.

At 12 x 5 x 6 mm, the mini-hinge demonstrates the ability to achieve small parts and assemblies printed in place.

Animesh Bose, expert metallurgist and VP of R&D at Desktop Metal, discussed the power of SPJ with attendees in front of a model of the build box showing the increased volume designed for higher throughput.

The dragon ring demonstrates the ability of the Production System to achieve beautiful metal parts with extremely fine details. The ring was polished using standard jewelry finishing methods.


ON DISPLAY

High-resolution, in-house metal 3D printing

Announced in September, new features introduced with Studio System+ include high-resolution printing, an in-chamber build plate camera for remote monitoring, increased processing capacity, the option to connect to external or house gas, and a newly-designed retort box for increased thermal uniformity. Key application stories demonstrated the breadth of use cases suited for in-house metal 3D printing with the Studio System.

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Printed with Studio System+

An interactive display featuring multiple, in-assembly shock absorber pistons. This highlighted the use of in-house metal 3D printing to overcome manufacturing bottlenecks that are common when using traditional methods to produce complex metal parts in low volume.

An interactive display featuring multiple, in-assembly shock absorber pistons. This highlighted the use of in-house metal 3D printing to overcome manufacturing bottlenecks that are common when using traditional methods to produce complex metal parts in low volume.

Built with the new high-resolution printhead, robotic end effectors showcased metal 3D printed jigs and fixtures, as well as the system’s ability to produce tiny parts with fine features.

Built with the new high-resolution printhead, robotic end effectors showcased metal 3D printed jigs and fixtures, as well as the system’s ability to produce tiny parts with fine features.

A set of extrusion dies make the case for tooling applications and trace the path for expedited product development timelines with the ability to produce complex geometries on-demand.

A display featuring injection mold inserts from the Built-Rite case study demonstrated the viability of the Studio System for tooling applications.

A series of Studio-fabricated extruder nozzles—each finished with a different technique—demonstrated a broad range of achievable surface finishes. Visitors were able to see and feel the parts while learning more about the impacts of each finishing method.

Four iterations of a complex static mixer demonstrated the value of the Studio System for rapid prototyping—especially for parts that are nearly impossible to machine or for applications in which plastic prototypes fail to perform in harsh environments.

Four iterations of a complex static mixer demonstrated the value of the Studio System for rapid prototyping—especially for parts that are nearly impossible to machine or for applications in which plastic prototypes fail to perform in harsh environments.


ON DISPLAY

Adaptable metal 3D printing solutions & processes to meet specific application needs

Announced in September, Studio Fleet is the custom-configurable hardware solution designed to maximize throughput with the Studio System. Two system configurations and supporting application examples served to highlight the time and cost savings realized through a more strategic approach to scaling in-house metal 3D printing. Key applications included customized parts, pilot runs, and aftermarket or replacement parts—avoiding prohibitive up-front tooling costs, reducing the need for a physical inventory of parts in storage, and eliminating maintenance of legacy equipment.

In addition, several different metal finishing methods were applied to 3D printed parts with a variety of geometries—demonstrating the adaptability of this technology to a wide range of applications with specific surface quality and finishing requirements.

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Formnext Fleet Lockup

Metal finishing methods for 3D printed parts

A series of Studio-fabricated parts—each finished with a different technique—demonstrated a broad range of achievable surface finishes. Visitors were able to see and feel the parts while learning more about the impacts of each finishing method.

Metal finishing methods for 3D printed parts

A series of Studio-fabricated parts—each finished with a different technique—demonstrated a broad range of achievable surface finishes. Visitors were able to see and feel the parts while learning more about the impacts of each finishing method.

Studio Fleet™

Announced in September, Studio Fleet is the custom-configurable hardware solution designed to maximize throughput with the Studio System.


ON DISPLAY 

Software solutions designed to elevate additive manufacturing

Throughout the week, live demos given by the inventors of each software technology included Live Parts and Fab Flow software—previews of which were released in 2018.

In-booth demo: Live Parts™

Andy Roberts, inventor of Live Parts, shared the software’s approach to a better and faster approach to generative design.

In-booth demo: Fab Flow™

Rick Chin, inventor of Fab Flow, demonstrates the ability to streamline operations across the shop floor.


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