Last week, the most innovative 3D printing companies from across the world gathered in Frankfurt, Germany for the highly anticipated formnext 2016 exhibition. Even with the 3DPrint.com team onsite to report on the biggest hits from the event, there was still too much happening to fit all the necessary coverage into one jam-packed week. One of the most exciting exhibitions came from the Albuquerque, New Mexico-based company Optomec, known for developing professional-grade 3D printers for the production of metal parts and electronics.
It’s been an extremely busy and successful year for Optomec, one comprised of global expansion, major partnerships, and increased use of their highly regarded Aerosol Jetting Technology, which is capable of embedding electronics at the micron scale. Back in September, they worked closely with the machine tool company Fryer Machine Systems to develop a hybrid machine that combined CNC machining with Optomec’s metal-based LENS technology. The potential of this unique and hybridized manufacturing tool was in the spotlight during the formnext 2016 exhibition.
During last week’s event in Frankfurt, Optomec brought out their new LENS Machine Tool series machines, as well as the Aerosol Jet 3D printers that are used to produce functional electronics. The LENS Machine Tool series is a CNC Vertical Milling platform that has been integrated with Optomec’s proprietary metal 3D printing technology. Not only does this machine result in a compellingly low price point, it’s also considered to be the first “Hybrid VMC Controlled-Atmosphere System” in the industry.
“Optomec’s Machine Tool series leverages LENS industry-proven technology to provide high-performance metal additive and hybrid manufacturing capabilities at an incredible price point, making additive manufacturing a viable solution for the machine tooling industry,” said David Ramahi, President and CEO of Optomec. “This new product line complements our existing LENS systems and fills specific gaps for low cost additive only and hybrid CNC inert systems. We are working with machine tool vendors to make production-grade metal additive manufacturing more affordable and accessible.”
The new LENS Machine Tool series combines the advantages of CNC machining and metal 3D printing, creating a hybrid technology that can be used for a vast number of applications. There are three standard configurations that make up the series, all of which are designed to reduce manufacturing process times and costs. The first configuration is the LENS 3D Metal Additive System, a highly regarded metal 3D printer that costs below $250,000. The second is the Lens 3D Metal Hybrid VMC System, which couples their LENS technology with subtractive operations on one machine. Lastly, the LENS 3D Metal Hybrid VMC Inert System provides an atmosphere-controlled environment that extends hybrid manufacturing capabilities for use with reactive metals and aluminum.
By replacing the upper enclosure of the CNC machine with their proprietary sealed chamber and gas purification system, Optomec’s LENS 3D Metal Hybrid VMC Inert System is capable of maintaining oxygen and moisture levels at less than 40 ppm. The LENS Machine Tool Series starts at $249,500 for the most basic configuration, while first customers can expect their machines to be shipped in early 2017. By recognizing the current need that many companies have for both additive and subtractive manufacturing, Optomec has created a machine that could help break the barriers of what can and can not be produced via 3D printing technology. Discuss in the Optomec forum at 3DPB.com.