Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Machine Tool Company Commercializes New Metal 3D Printer

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[Image: TRAFAM]

A new metal 3D printer developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Machine Tool Co., Ltd. – a group company of the Japanese industrial firm Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) – has just been commercialized. Recently, the first commercial unit of the LAMDA 200 system, developed through a research project between the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) and the Technology Research Association for Future Additive Manufacturing (TRAFAM), was delivered to the Industrial Research Center of Shiga Prefecture in Ritto.

The commercial metal system uses a proprietary Directed Energy Deposition (DED) method – metal powder is fed continuously by nozzles to the laser fusing point. By altering the composition of the materials, the LAMDA 200 is able to laminate metals with precision and at high speeds.

A few years ago, TRAFAM began utilizing MHI Machine Tool’s accumulated laser and positioning control technologies in order to develop a next-generation prototype metal DED 3D printer. This unit was finished in the fall of 2017, at which point the organization began an advertising campaign that targeted full-scale marketing. Now, the commercial entry model of this metal DED 3D printer has been officially launched.

The commercial LAMDA 200 3D printer is dedicated to fabricating small part prototypes. The system uses laser beams, which are emitted through dual nozzles, to pass through metal powder and cause fusion at the focal point. The movement of the two nozzles causes the printer’s progressive additive manufacturing. According to MHI, the 3D printer’s molding speed is over ten times faster when extracting a formed object than powder bed fusion printing is, which helps suppress metal powder waste.

MHI Machine Tool and the Industrial Research Center of Shiga Prefecture will work together to create metal additive manufacturing innovations. Just this month, the Centre established on its grounds an Advanced Monozukuri Prototype Development Center, which is where the new LAMDA 200 metal DED 3D printer will be installed. Here, it will be used to support new product and technology development of companies working in the traditional Japanese concept of craftsmanship known as monozukuri. Together, the Centre and MHI Machine Tool will work to increase proposal-based sales routes, as well as gain further recognition of the commercial LAMDA 200 in the manufacturing industry and develop new user applications.

According to an MHI press release, “Because it is possible to perform additive manufacturing to a part’s surface by way of repair, to double-laminate different metal powders, and to manufacture large parts, significant expansion of applications is anticipated through innovations during the processing phase and combined use with other machine tools.”

Inevitably, maintenance issues and complaints about quality management of metal materials regarding the new DED metal 3D printing system will come up as the LAMDA 200 is increasingly adopted. That’s why MHI Machine Tool is also working to create feedback monitoring capability that will monitor and stabilize the system’s status automatically, in addition to a shielding function that will be needed when manufacturing titanium alloys and other metals that will be used in aviation applications.

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