There are not many mold manufacturing companies that specialize and have developed expertise in additive manufacturing. Linear Mold & Engineering is a moldmaking company that has created a growing business by combining additive manufacturing (AM) and moldmaking to offer complete solutions to its customers.
The company recently announced strategic plans to address what Linear sees as the "Additive Manufacturing (AM) gap" for 3D metal printing. Linear's goal is to become the first "AM solutions provider" by delivering solutions to customers requiring innovative alternatives using 3D metal printing technology.
When Linear started using 3D metal printing technology with Direct Metal Laser Sintering technology from EOS GmbH, the idea was to build conformal cooling channels for the molds the company builds. That business expanded into building conformal cooling channels for other mold manufacturers in the area.
However, a few years later Linear's President John Tenbusch, began to see the real potential for AM to go beyond conformal cooling channels - and even beyond prototype parts - and provide OEMs with actual end-use components. Given the speed of innovation in 3D metal printing technology and the range of materials that have been - and continue to be - developed, Linear began expanding that business, ultimately purchasing a total of eight AM 3D metal printing machines to accommodate this growing component of the company's business.
With the recently announced expansion, Linear will add over 17,000 sq-ft to their existing footprint and double its AM capacity. This expansion will add eight more AM machines initially and provide an additional 24 machines for the future needs of their customers in aerospace & defense, energy, medical, automotive, consumer packaged goods and more.
In 2015, Linear plans to provide R&D pods to its customers for development of new materials, new AM techniques, and product development in a secure setting. Linear's R&D pods can be configured to the customer's needs. The units will be secured and monitored by dedicated Linear personnel.
"Linear continues to innovate with new cutting-edge developments in prototyping and production of metal parts. Our customers want a solutions provider that can manufacture both prototype and production parts for their needs from concept through end-use parts," commented Tenbusch. "Linear's technology transfer programs are truly unique to the 3D metal printing industry with customer solutions to include DMLS/DMLM training, staffing and consulting through Linear's technical services options. We want to help our customers accelerate their AM plans."