Collaborative NextGenAM Project Aims to Speed Up Automation of the Industrial 3D Printing Process

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Last year, Premium AEROTEC, a German manufacturer of commercial and military aircraft production systems, entered into a partnership with Norsk Titanium, to offer 3D printed metal components to Airbus, one of its major clients. Premium AEROTEC is a leader in the metal additive manufacturing sector, and is continuing to grow ever more committed to additive manufacturing, inviting Terry Wohlers to visit its headquarters last year and speak about the technology to over 100 industry professionals; now, the aerostructures supplier is expanding its capabilities past aviation, and embarking on a joint project with some other industry leaders.

Premium AEROTEC will join up with industrial 3D printing technology supplier EOS, which recently announced that it would offer metal additive manufacturing and safety training to its customers, and top automotive manufacturer Daimler AG, for a collective NextGenAM project, with the goal of developing, and implementing, next generation industrial additive manufacturing.

Dr. Thomas Ehm, Premium AEROTEC CEO, said, “We are currently the leader for metal 3D printing in the aerospace industry. Now, we need to continue developing this technology extensively in order to expand its application spectrum significantly. Together with our partners, we can thus ensure state-of-the-art technology for our industry.”

All three project partners are bringing something special to the table: Premium AEROTEC was the first manufacturer to ever supply serial 3D printed structural components to Airbus, replacing the titanium powder components previously used. Daimler has experience in large-scale serial production, and uses commercial 3D printers to make over 100,000 prototype parts for all of its divisions each year; one of its divisions, Mercedes-Benz, 3D printed thousands of on-demand replacement truck parts last year.

“We invented the car, and we are actively shaping the future of mobility,” said Steve Kienzle, Head of Advance Development at Daimler AG. “The elements that we bring to this collaboration are our extensive experience in automotive materials and the qualification of those materials, as well as our know-how on efficient and large-scale capacity manufacturing processes in conjunction with component design that is topologically optimised and the latest calculation methods.”

EOS will integrate the project’s production process into an automated line, using its metal AM Quad-Laser System EOS M400-4 as the centerpiece.

“We are proud to be part of such a forward-looking project alongside Premium AEROTEC and Daimler,” said Dr. Hans J. Langer, Founder and CEO of the EOS Group. “This underlines the growing footprint of industrial 3D printing in serial production. As a technology pioneer in powder-based additive manufacturing we contribute full engagement and long-lasting expertise. With EOS platforms we push ahead the setup of this future production solution.”

The NextGenAM project aims to speed up the automation of the overall industrial 3D printing process, and the team will be taking a good, hard look at all aspects, from the process stages before and after the actual build process (which currently constitute about 70% of manufacturing costs) to metal powder delivery, and will determine which parts can be easily automated. The complete system will be aluminum-based, and the partners hope to make progress in cost advantages, efficiency, processing times, and setting the foundation to utilize additive manufacturing technology for future large-scale serial manufacturing, as well as qualifying aluminum for use in industrial 3D printing.

The project partners will be establishing a development and test environment at a technology center in Varel, Germany, and are investing several million euros to plan and build an automated production facility for serial production based on additive manufacturing. The economically efficient system, developed cooperatively over the course of NextGenAm starting next month, will work for the automotive industry, and can be adapted for the aerospace industry as well. Discuss in the NextGenAM forum at 3DPB.com.

[Source: Premium AEROTEC]

 

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