AMS Spring 2023

Bushings for Glass Fiber Production 3D Printed in Platinum-Rhodium by Cooksongold AM

Inkbit

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Cooksongold AM and Sempsa JP, both members of the Heimerle + Meule Group, have 3D printed specialty components for glass fiber production using a platinum-rhodium alloy. The pieces, tip plates for bushings used in the extrusion of glass fibers, demonstrate the value of additive manufacturing (AM) of precious metals on an industrial scale.

Working with the Institut für Textiltechnik of RWTH Aachen University (ITA) and EOS, Cooksongold AM was able to 3D print full-size tip plates made from the platinum-rhodium alloy and then perform production trials with Johns Manville in Slovakia. In turn, a company called Advanced Manufacturing Process Solutions (AMPS) GmbH has been formed to showcase the technology, including R&D and prototyping services. A ‘cost-sharing’ environment, in which glass fiber companies can work with AMPS on an individual basis to apply the technology to their specific needs. The partners describe the environment as being “free of intellectual property, sits above individual research and development ‘cells’, where all the commercially sensitive work takes place.”

A 3D-printed tip plate made from platinum-rhodium alloy. Image courtesy of Cooksongold AM.

Cooksongold AM is one of the few suppliers of bed fusion systems for 3D printing precious metals, alongside Concept Laser, Sisma, Realizer/DMG Mori, OR Laser and Trumpf. Cooksongold AM has worked with EOS for several years, developing their M 080 and M 100 AM direct metal laser sintering systems for use with precious metals, with Cooksongold AM creating a range of parameters for 3D printing precious metals with EOS technology. For Cooksongold AM, this represents the successful deployment of a strategy to optimize applications for 3D printing precious metals on an industrial scale and commercialize them.

The EOS M 100 metal 3D printer used for precious metal 3D printing. Image courtesy of EOS.

The ITA, in particular, was necessary for transferring the AM expertise of the consortium to the glass fiber industry. For the group’s work, the partners were awarded the  ‘JEC Composites Magazine Special Prize’ on May 13. This was the first time that the award was given online, due to the ongoing pandemic.

The virtual JEC Composites Innovation Awards event. Image courtesy of JEC Composites Magazine.

SmarTech Analysis profiled Cooksongold and the larger precious metals AM industry in its report “Markets for Precious Metals in Additive Manufacturing: 2018 – 2028,” where it predicted the rising prominence of platinum beyond use in jewelry. The highest growth for the metal was projected to occur in the medium term from the publication date in 2018 and we are now seeing that projection being realized.

The analysis firm anticipates the total precious metals for AM market to be worth near $2 billion by 2028, with platinum playing no small part and falling just behind gold in terms of total revenue generation by that time. Because Cooksongold, with EOS, is a key player across precious metals for AM, it will be able to capitalize on that revenue opportunity, particularly as it continues to expand material applications beyond jewelry and watchmaking.

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