An infrastructure is the foundation on which the structure of an economy is built, and includes a variety of systems and structures to help prop that economy up. Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic has done some infrastructure damage, mostly in relation to the supply chain, but as more people get vaccinated and (hopefully) continue to remain cautious, we’re slowly coming back. Specifically in the U.S., which officially welcomed in its 46th president this winter, a major infrastructure push is beginning that’s covering everything from transportation and energy to manufacturing. Unfortunately, at the same time, the country is also going through a metals shortage that negatively impacts the very industry sectors we’re trying to build up again.
That’s why Italy-headquartered Roboze, which develops and manufactures industrial 3D printing systems for extreme end-use applications, is launching something new: Roboze Automate, which it touts as the first industrial automation system in the world that’s bringing customized, industrial-scale 3D printing with composites and super polymer materials into the production workflow.
“Industrial automation meets 3D printing,” the Roboze website states. “We have created the Roboze Automate technology ecosystem, which finally brings 3D printing on par with conventional methods such as CNC machining and injection molding, in terms of consistency, repeatability and process control, perfectly integrating into the production workflow of manufacturing companies and positioning itself as a solution for custom manufacturing.”
For all the talk of it being a bit of a wonder technology, parts production in the 3D printing industry can be inconsistent, due to issues such as sensor and material quality, temperature fluctuations, and human error. According to the SmarTech Analysis report “Additive Manufacturing in the Factory of the Future: Opportunities and Markets,” other problems can also arise, including “slow processes involving multiple steps, high costs to scaling, shortage of skilled workforce, difficulty in controlling quality across the supply chain, and the immaturity of standards to facilitate regulatory conformity.” These variables have been something of a barrier to the adoption of 3D printing as a true industrial production process, akin to technologies like injection molding and CNC machining. But automation can help with a lot of these.
The new Roboze Automate combines the company’s novel PEEK platform, which is a great material for replacing metals, with a PLC industrial automation system that Roboze developed with Austrian automation and process control technology company B&R. This new automated offering, available to all new ARGO 500 Additive Production Systems, is, according to a Roboze press release, “a first-in-class for the 3D printing industry.” Roboze Automate uses advanced sensors, along with remote control and diagnosis capabilities, to monitor print results and report data, essentially streamlining the workflow.
“As the need for strong, resilient infrastructure in the U.S. and around the world continues to climb, we are bringing 3D manufacturing to a new level of consistency, repeatability, and process control and production speed. Our components-as-a service approach is upending error-ridden manufacturing fluctuations and materials shortages to support true industrial-scale 3D manufacturing,” stated Roboze CEO Alessio Lorusso in the release.
Roboze, which has already been working to decentralize additive manufacturing and handle supply chain challenges, says that its new solution helps with the challenges of process control and standardization in delivering repeatable 3D printed parts. Roboze Automate has predictive maintenance built right in through automatic, remote updates of new software parameters and features, and ARGO 500 Additive Production Systems customers will supposedly be able to certify every 3D printed component they make, which basically means they can achieve controlled, customized batches of up to 3,000 parts from one printer.
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