Heat Treatment for Metal 3D Printing in Development from AddUp & ECM Group

Formnext Germany

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France and Cincinnati-based metal 3D printing OEM AddUp has signed a partnership with French company ECM Group, which creates thermal solutions, in order to jointly develop a heat treatment solution specifically for metal 3D printed parts. This particular post-processing method is vital for design efficiency and tailored microstructure performance, and especially for the two AM technologies in which AddUp specializes – Directed Energy Deposition (DED) and Powder Bed Fusion (PBF).

“Heat treatment operations are just as important as the 3D printing phase itself, both to reduce the internal stresses generated during the “lasering” phase and to adapt the microstructure of the material and its properties. This is why, within AddUp, we are seeking to strengthen this expertise with one of the market leaders; both to reinforce our internal production capacities and to offer a complete solution to our customers wishing to integrate the production of parts made in 3D metal,” explained Jean Rivoire, Parts Production Manager at AddUp.

Heat treatment is an important part of the overall metal AM process, in which parts are fabricated by fusing consecutive layers of powder. The material is rapidly heated and then cooled due to how fast the laser moves, and this can cause either expansion or shrinkage, which can have a negative impact on the printed part. Applying thermal treatment to the metal 3D printed parts can not only decrease the internal stresses in order to achieve the proper mechanical properties, but also improve the material’s homogeneity.

Because it’s important to AddUp to provide its customers with a complete additive solution, including quality post-processing, the OEM turned to the ECM Group, which has plenty of expertise in thermal treatments. ECM has experience in controlling gases, atmospheres, and thermal applications, and provides vacuum furnace knowledge and equipment for a variety of advanced manufacturing sectors, including renewable energies, medical, e-mobility, and aeronautics. Now, AddUp and ECM will combine their knowledge to create a high value-added heat treatment solution for metal additive manufacturing.

“At ECM, we are convinced of the potential of metal additive manufacturing, some applications of which will lead to mass production. Our alliance with the French company AddUp, a key player in this market, will allow us to bring our know-how for the development of innovative thermal solutions to this market, as we have been doing for more than 20 years in the international market of thermal treatment of conventional parts,” said ECM Sales Director Yvan Trouillot. “Together, our ambition is to develop these technologies to help our customers progress by offering them the best solutions on the market.”

Together, the two companies will come up with heat treatment solutions to help customers lower manufacturing lead times and costs, as well as improve the performance of their 3D printed parts. First, AddUp and the ECM Group will focus on a development program that will lay out the proper specifications for a heat treatment solution adapted specifically for metal AM. Then, ECM will design a vacuum furnace system that meets these specifications.

In February of 2023, 3DPrint.com and SmarTech Analysis will once again be holding our Additive Manufacturing Strategies summit in New York City. This event will include keynote presentations and panels focused on nine vertical topics that are critical in the continually-growing world of additive manufacturing, including large-format and industrial AM and post-processing. Register now to join us in these important discussions!

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