Todd Grimm Tells More Tales About Fantastic Developments in Additive Manufacturing at RAPID

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Todd Grimm discusses EnvisionTEC’s P4 at RAPID. [Image: Sarah Goehrke]

Last week, we reported on the first part of Todd Grimm’s rapid-fire What’s New talk at RAPID + TCT. Grimm continued his talk by discussing the latest trends in digital light processing, commonly know as DLP. As Grimm explained, DLP (for 3D printing) is a technology that has been around for 15 years and was pioneered by EnvisionTEC. And there was some news from EnvisionTEC, as they introduced a new light engine for DLP, their custom LED system of their fourth generation Perfactory 4 (P4) model lineup. The new LED system on the P4 is intended to offer low operational costs, and to improve speed and detail.

Admatec’s goal is to drive down the cost of DLP ceramic and metal parts, and they recently introduced two new machines to their lineup; the ADMAFLEX 130 and ADMETALFLEX, each of which costs about $90K. The machines lay down a thin film of photopolymer loaded with either ceramic or metal powder. As Grimm noted, when printed parts come out of the machines they are considered “green parts,” as they have to be placed in a furnace to sinter the powered material together.

Of course, Carbon was still the talk of the town with their CLIP technology. Their new M2 3D printer has twice the surface area (in X & Y) of their previous machine, the M1. They also introduced a Smart Part Washer that knows the material that you build in and the geometry of the part and it configures itself for the optimal cycle to clean the parts and recycle the excess resin. This is part of their SpeedCell system where the 3D printer and part washer talk to each other.

Coobx uses a process where they starve their photo resins of oxygen to accelerate curing. Their LIFTCell system automates the printers around a robotic core that can refill resin, store and clean printed parts, depending on its configuration. 3D Systems uses a similar concept that uses a linear setup, in contrast to the LIFTCell’s circular layout. Their Figure 4 demonstrator debuted at last year’s RAPID conference, and at IMTS was highlighted as a part of the company’s strategy to move toward manufacturing — now it’s shipping as Figure 4 production platform. It also automates filling resin, and extracting, cleaning and curing parts. It’s configurable, expandable up to 16 printers.

New trends in FDM printing. [Image: Sarah Goehrke]

Grimm also highlighted some innovations in the world of FDM printing. Stratasys’ F123 series is a workgroup solution for printing prototypes quickly. They consist of the Stratasys F170, F270 and Stratasys F370 and they can print in PLA, ABS and ASA, with the 370 adding PC-ABS. We covered 3D Platform’s new innovations at RAPID. Grimm discussed their Workbench Extreme, which adds an extra half meter to the Workbench’s build area. He also discussed 3D Platform’s new high-flow extruders.

Titan Robotics also has a new pellet extruder. It allows Titan to use a wider range of thermoplastics and cuts material costs. Their Cronus printer has up to 5 printheads that work in tandem to dramatically speed printing and is powered by Autodesk Netfabb’s collaborative multi-head 3D printing technology. Essentium and BASF recently entered into a new partnership. Essentium is adding its FlashFuse electric welding technology, which enhances layer to layer adhesion of 3D printed parts, to BASF’s wide-range of FDM materials.

Grimm then moved on from FDM to the hot topic at RAPID, which was metal 3D printing.

“Now the big, big trend is metal. Still a small segment of the (additive manufacturing) industry based on the number of users, the number of machines, but everybody wants in,” said Grimm.

Metal printing was the hot topic at RAPID. [Image: Sarah Goehrke]

Vader Systems won the Distinguished Paper Award for their work, “Liquid Metal 3D Printing: A Magnetohydrodynamic Approach,” on Vader’s revolutionary MagnetoJet technology. Vader’s process differs from most other metal 3D printing technologies, as it uses liquid metal printing as opposed to using a metal powder and sintering it. MagnetoJet utilizes standard metal wire, reducing costs. It melts the wire in a crucible and uses an electro-magnetic pulse to fire a single droplet of metal.

Adira is a sheet metal stamping equipment manufacturer and they have come up with a new technology, tile additive manufacturing. They use powder bed fusion in 1′ x 1′ working areas, or tiles, and use an array of 3 tiles in the X axis and Y axis, for a total of 9 tiles to give it a 3′ x 3′ work area. Adira then uses a second process, directed energy deposition (DED), to combine the separate parts through a welding operation, and that machine has a 5′ x 5′ x 5′ build volume.

Markforged is using material extrusion for metal parts. The Metal X prints a thermoplastic that is heavily embedded with metal powder. This creates a green part, that then has to go through a de-binding process to get rid of the thermoplastic and then the piece is run through a furnace to consolidate the final part. Desktop Metal‘s recently introduced DM Studio System and DM Production System were highly anticipated products that attendees of the conference were clamoring to see. The Studio System uses an extrusion process similar to what Markforged is doing with the Metal X, whereas their DM Production System process is binder jet.

“What’s really interesting, and I can’t go into detail is all their secret sauce. They get a support release strategy where right out of the furnace the supports just pull right off of the parts,” said Grimm. “They also have a brand new furnace… that’s microwave enhanced and office compatible.”

There was a ton more news in Grimm’s expansive talk and there will be more of that to come in the next installment of his presentation. Stay tuned for that and much more from RAPID.


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