3D printing with continuous reinforcement fibers, like carbon fiber, is just now starting to come into its own, with numerous startups developing their own unique approaches to the concept. Their presence on the market is a different story, as many of these firms are still in the R&D or beta stages. Dutch firm CEAD, however, is already in the process of building and shipping its massive reinforcement fiber 3D printers and has already developed, in partnership with Siemens, a follow-up system that it will be showcasing at Formnext 2019: the AM Flexbot.
You may have caught our previous coverage of CEAD and its Continuous Fiber Additive Manufacturing (CFAM) process. The company’s first printer, the CFAM Prime, has a massive build envelope of 4mx2mx1.5m and is, according to CEAD, able to print thermoplastics reinforced with continuous glass or carbon fiber at a rapid average rate of 15 kg/hr. To maintain precision while depositing at such speeds, the system is controlled by Siemens’ Sinumerik 840D sl.
The firm’s new technology, the AM Flexbot, extends CEAD’s partnership with Siemens, resulting in a 3D printing process that uses a large-scale industrial robotic arm as a motion platform. The system features CEAD’s single screw extruder unit mounted onto a Comau robotic arm, all controlled by Siemens’ Sinumerik CNC with Run MyRobot /Direct Control software. For clarification: the AM Flexbot does not perform continuous fiber reinforcement.
CEAD turned to Comau and Sinumerik Run MyRobot/Direct Control in order to maintain the precision necessary to accurately deposit the material to near-net-shape before milling parts to completion. The AM Flexbot is now available for purchase, but CEAD is aiming to expand its feature set. If the system can both 3D print and mill, it’s possible to imagine what additional capabilities it might have. This could include performing quality control metrology once a print has been completed, using robotic grippers to add external components, or working in tandem with other robotic arms to create even larger structures.
CEAD co-founder and Operations Director Lucas Janssen said of the product, “By using Siemens’ Sinumerik Run MyRobot /Direct Control together with a Comau robot arm in our latest solution, we are able to deliver a modular system scalable to fit our customer’s needs as many different functions can be added at any time. We are very pleased to work with Siemens and their reliable products.”
CEAD is not alone in the fiber reinforcement or robotic arm space. In terms of the former, companies like AREVO, Impossible Objects, Markforged, Desktop Metal, Anisoprint, and Continuous Composites are just a few who are either working on fiber reinforcement 3D printing or have commercial products readily available. For robotic arms, 3D Systems, MX3D, Stratasys, and EnvisionTEC are only the commercial companies who are either working on 3D printing with robotic arms or have solutions commercially available. In both spaces, there are countless research projects being performed, so CEAD will find itself with plenty of company in the near future.
The AM Flexbot will be on display at the Siemens booth (D81, Hall 12.1) at Formnext 2019, but if you don’t catch it there, Siemens will also be including a CEAD 3D printing system at its Additive Manufacturing Experience Center (AMEC) in Erlangen, Germany.
Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Stay up-to-date on all the latest news from the 3D printing industry and receive information and offers from third party vendors.
You May Also Like
Medical Goes Additive: How Social Networks Are Humanizing the 3D Printing Industry
It seems so obvious that it shouldn’t need to be said, but the activities of machines can only ever be, at most, half of what defines a technology. The remainder...
3D Printing Webinar & Event Roundup: March 26, 2023
Get ready for a busy week that’s chock full of webinars and events, both virtual and in-person, all around the world. Let’s not waste time, read on for all the...
2023 AMUG Conference Showcases Maturity of 3D Printing Industry
In reading our series on the early days of the Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG), attendees of the 2023 AMUG Conference may be blown away by the sheer growth of...
3D Printing News Unpeeled: Failure to Ignite, Synchrotrons and Connectors
Relativity Space‘s rocket did launch after two failed attempts but the second stage failed to ignite. This is a terrible event in 3D printing. It makes us all look bad and...
Upload your 3D Models and get them printed quickly and efficiently.