AMS Spring 2023

Robots for Metal 3D Printing Post-Processing to Debut at Formnext

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Rivelin Robotics, a UK-based original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of robotic systems for metal additive manufacturing (AM), announced that it will introduce its NetShape Robots at this year’s Formnext, in Frankfurt, Germany, November 15-18. Rivelin will be co-hosting Stand B41 in Hall 12 with TextureJet, a UK OEM that will be introducing its electrochemical jet machining (EJM) technology.

The NetShape Robots, designed for metal AM post-processing, are operated by Rivelin’s proprietary NetShape control software. Rivelin claims that by adopting the NetShape system, manufacturers using metal AM can see significant reductions in both defects and costs in the post-processing phase. Given how lengthy and costly a process this typically is, automated post-processing is probably one of the most logical areas for metal 3D printing bureaus to make new investments into.

In a press release announcing Rivelin’s introduction of its NetShape Robots at Formnext, the company’s CEO, Robert Bush, commented, “The search for automated post-processing solutions is on-going and vital for the mass uptake of metal AM across industry, and is the reason that Rivelin Robotics exists. As a company we aim to drive the uptake of AM which we see as a major contributor to a sustainable future, and which will have lasting benefits for our environment. With NetShape Robots we introduce our first breakthrough to achieve this goal.”

As Rivelin’s CEO points out, the improvement of post-processing systems seems to be a prerequisite that would have to be fulfilled, in order for metal AM to start to be realistically incorporated into supply chains for anything remotely approaching mass production. Thus, the fact that use of metal AM seems to be in the earliest stages of a long scale-up means that interest in post-processing platforms should increase at least as much as interest in the printers themselves.

With that in mind, the UK is an advantageous market to be situated within, for a variety of reasons. Not only is metal AM currently burgeoning domestically, but the UK is at the crossroads between growing metal AM markets in both the US and EU (and the the markets for many other things, of course), regarding international trade.

In turn, it seems possible that the UK could emerge as a leader in all the things involved in AM beyond printers and materials. Moreover, the UK lags behind other similar economies in terms of its use of industrial robotics, suggesting that there is ample room in the UK economy for increased automation. This bodes well for growth in the UK’s AM market, as well as in the market in the UK for the combination of AM and robotics.

Images courtesy of Rivelin Robotics

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