RAMLAB is not only unique in that it is a manufacturing lab, but it is serving a specific purpose as it was created for the maritime industry, and opens today, November 30th, at RDM Rotterdam in the Innovation Dock.
RAMLAB has one focus, and that is to accelerate and encourage the use of 3D printing. Their team believes that 3D printing/additive manufacturing will ‘reshape’ industry, and they certainly are not alone in this, especially when examining the benefits, from allowing for incredible customization and the creation of new geometries to speed in creating more sustainable products. Greater affordability is of course a major bonus all around, and one that will motivate many different individuals and groups to give it a try.
RAMLAB also sees 3D printing as a revolutionary new technology that will reshape because it means that a business (or even a hobbyist) does not have to keep an inventory of generic stock. Pieces can be customized and manufactured on demand. The lab is part of an enormous pilot program involving 30 different participants in what they consider to be a joint industry project in creating large metal parts via Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM).
At their grand opening, RAMLAB will be showing off not only the powers of additive manufacturing overall but they will also have their Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) robots on display. As they prepare for their opening, their new welding machine is also being kept under wraps until it’s time for lights, camera, action—and then they will release it for public viewing. At that time, visitors will see a machine that will transform the assembly line via two large manipulators that move objects about at all angles during the welding process. Its central feature is a red, robotic welding arm which attaches to the factory line, pumping out the majority of the work.
“With its impressive size it will be able to 3D print metal objects of 2 x 2 x meters with ease,” said RAMLAB Managing Director Vincent Wegener. “It’s quite unique in the world to have such a system. We are probably the first and most ambitious lab in the world when it comes to large size additive manufacturing.”
The machine is based on WAAM technology which, at present, is the most suitable technology for the production of large metal parts, using a solid freeform method of creation. The electric arc acts as the source of heat, with the steel wire functioning as the feedstock. This system allows for faster production and is less expensive. According to the RAMLAB team, this method will allow for steel objects to be printed on easily. The machine features light blocking blinds and also houses an efficient exhaust system.
“This means that, when a propeller is made for example, the welding machine doesn’t have to print the core of the object first, but only has to weld the blades. That saves a lot of time,” added Wegener.
RAMLAB is currently the recipient of hardware being offered by companies like Valk Welding and others, with the prime mission being the success of this lab.
“Everybody is working together on this. And that’s the true power of RAMLAB: we don’t waste time talking, but we are working hard to get things done,” said Wegener. “It’s the Rotterdam ‘can do’ mentality. And that’s what will ultimately make RAMLAB a success.”
RAMLAB is an initiative of the Port of Rotterdam, Innovation Quarter and RDM Makerspace and is supported by a growing list of partners. Discuss in the RAMLAB forum at 3DPB.com.[Sources: RAMLAB; TCT Magazine / Images: RAMLAB]