Arcam‘s A2X 3D printer is a heavy-duty metal printer designed for aerospace and materials R&D applications. It’s capable of processing titanium alloys as well as other materials that require elevated temperatures – its build chamber can withstand temperatures of up to 1100ºC. In addition to being frequently used within the aerospace industry, the A2X is also popular in universities and research institutions. Now Arcam, a GE Additive company, has decided to open up the A2X’s development mode to universities and academic institutes at no cost for material and EBM process development.
“For many years Electron beam melting (EBM) and the Arcam A2X has been a go-to system for academic researchers in materials science,” said Isak Elfström, Vice President, Research at Arcam EBM. “We enjoy a close working relationship with the academic community and the twenty universities and institutes currently using it. One thing we hear regularly is that faculty and students are hungry to push the boundaries of their field and fulfil the potential of additive.
“That is music to our ears. Arcam’s own roots are in academia with the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg. So, we know first-hand all the benefits and potential of a close working relationship between industry and academia. That is why we’ve decided to further open up the A2X system’s development mode for material and process development, at no cost, for universities all over the world.”
What this means is that academic institutions currently using the A2X can contact Arcam for a special hardware key that is connected to a specific machine and nominated person. After a review and assessment of training needs, the keys, which will unlock the development setting on the system, will be delivered this November. This will allow researchers to access a wider range of parameters and develop new materials and processes. The key does not unlock the system’s security features, however.
“We see this as a first step in giving our customers in academia the possibility to customize how materials are melted and the Arcam team will work together with them to further enable process, sensor and hardware customization to unlock the true potential of the EBM technology,” said Elfström.
Universities and research institutions not currently using A2X are being offered 10 systems with special pricing. Currently, the system is being used in 13 universities and 7 institutes across North America, Europe and Asia for some groundbreaking research projects. For example, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has been using the A2X to show that EBM techology is capable of controlling the resulting microstructure with high precision within a component. The University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, meanwhile, has used an earlier version of the A2X platform to build a full-length single crystal CMSX-4.
“We have only just scratched the surface of what is possible with EBM technology,” Elfström said. “With this initiative we hope to further encourage our academia customers to join us in exploring and showing the possibilities with this technology and in doing so influence our product development in the mid to long-term. By opening up the A2X we also want to empower and inspire the next generation of engineers and materials scientists to fulfil the potential of additive. By removing constraints and barriers to make additive technology platforms and parameters as open as possible, we want these smart minds to think even more laterally, around corners and invent and innovate.”
Universities or institutions interested in the program can contact Elfström at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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