Todd Grimm, president of T.A. Grimm & Associates, provided an introductory overview at RAPID 2014 of all the latest and greatest in 3D printing innovations, and encouraged attendees to visit those companies exhibiting at the show to see for themselves these exciting new products.
One of the most exciting new products in the equipment category is the Big Area Additive Manufacturing machine (BAAMci), developed in a partnership agreement between Cincinnati Inc. and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The BAAMci is a large-scale additive manufacturing system capable of printing polymer components up to 10 times larger than currently producible, and at speeds 200 to 500 times faster than existing additive machines. According to a spokesperson at Cincinnati's booth, the BAAMci has a one-gallon per hour material deposition rate.
Grimm noted that this machine addresses a number of the issues surrounding the AM process including throughput, part size constraints and provides hybrid additive and subtractive processes, all of which are needed to compete with injection molding to make AM competitive.
3D Systems has developed a number of new products recently including the Projet 4500, a plastic binder-jet printer using powdered acrylate and offering full color printing. The Projet 5500x offers a second jetting head for two-material printing that can bond or blend on the fly, Grimm explained. The ProX 500 is a photopolymer machine pushing toward production part manufacturing, going after injection molding with better part quality and higher throughput.
Stratasys also comes in big with its Objet500 Connex3, with a third print head and the ability to create multi-material over-molded components on the fly. It combines colors with multi-material printing, with the ability to mix rigid, flexible (rubber like), transparent and opaque colors to provide optimum versatility to design and produce products faster, according to Stratasys.
Asiga is also addressing the build-envelope size with its new Freeform Pro 50 (96 x 54 x 200 mm) and Freeform Pro 75 (144 x 81 x 200 mm) to enable larger part builds, and with a 50 micro resolution.
Arcam launched its Arcam Q20, a new Electron Beam Melting AM system designed specifically for manufacturing in the aerospace industry. Grimm also noted the size of the build box in the Q20 - 15" x 18" to accommodate large parts.
Concept Laser's LaserCUSING powder-bed based laser melting process was showcased in the company's latest in its X-Line products: the 1000R - a 1000-watt laser melting system with one of the industry's largest build boxes: 630 x 400 x 500 mm (25" x 15"x 20"). According to Concept Laser, one of its customers recently manufactured a transmission part from aluminum that measured 474 x 367 x 480 mm, not including the height of the build platform. It has a build rate of 65cm3 per hour.
German AM machine maker envisionTEC showcased its PerfactoryXede with a large build area (444.5 x 355.6 x 500 mm) offers a fast build speed of 25mm in z per hour, and according to the company makes the machine an excellent choice for automotive and aerospace components. The PerfactoryXede accommodates a wide range of materials including high temperature resistant (up 140oC) resin for under-the-hood applications. It also provides excellent XY resolution of 65 microns a Z down from 150 to 25 micron depending on the material.
Not to be left behind in the drive toward larger build envelopes, EOS, an innovator in Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), displayed its new EOS M 290 system, the successor to its "market-leading M 280 system," according to EOS. With a build volume of 250 x 250 x 425 mm (9.8" x 9.8" x 12.8"), the M 290 offers flexible and economic additive manufacturing of metal components.
Andrew Snot, Seniro VP of EOS of North America, told PlasticsToday that the M 290 will help reduce part cost through the reduction in Argon gas usage (3 liters/minute) and with built-in monitoring of the melt pool for greater consistency for parts for the aerospace industry.
"EOS is positioned as an industrial 3D printer solution provider, not only for prototypes but production technology as well," Snow said. "Additionally, on the plastics side of our business we have the P-760 with a dual laser and a build platform of 27" x 24" x 15," which has recently been qualified by Boeing."
Snow added that "acceptance [of the new equipment] is based on consistent platform-to-platform and build-to-build. That's what we test for from our M 270 to the M 290 and all equipment in between."