AMS Spring 2023

KUKA & Ai Build Launch 3D Printing Production Cells

6K SmarTech

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The UK-based software as a service (SaaS) firm Ai Build has announced a new product line, in collaboration with its frequent and longstanding partner, robotics manufacturer KUKA Systems. The line of automated additive manufacturing (AM) production cells, called AMCell_, will come in three different sizes, starting with the AMCell_small.

Powered by Ai Build’s AiSync software platform, the AMCell_small integrates KUKA’s KR 10 AGILUS R900 robotic arm with a non-planar polymer extruder head. With this initial launch, Ai Build and KUKA will be targeting the academic sector and occupational training markets.

In a press release announcing the first launch in Ai Build and KUKA’s new line of production cells, Ai Build’s CEO, Daghan Cam, commented, “KUKA have a well earned reputation for quality engineering, and over many years Ai Build’s partnership with KUKA has been tested in many scenarios. We use KUKA robots every day in our AiLab and KUKA integrated with AiSync software has been successfully pushing AM boundaries in the world’s largest enterprises.” KUKA’s sales manager for robotic joining and AM, Kevin Kolkea, added, “As an entry level, standardized cell, our skilled 3D printing specialists can be trained in the operation of KUKA robots and become familiar with Ai Build’s [AM] software AiSync and user interfaces.”

As Ai Build’s CEO notes, in addition to having worked with KUKA since 2015, the SaaS firm has worked with industrial giants such as Rolls-Royce and Boeing, as well. In 2021, the latter also invested in the company through its ATI Boeing Accelerator (now called Aerospace Xelerated). Moreover, earlier this year, Ai Build received $3.2 million in new funding.

As AM becomes more and more integrated into the supply chains of heavy industries like aerospace and automotive, the technology is, simultaneously, increasingly being packaged alongside other manufacturing processes, as the central node in fully-automated production cells. The new thing here isn’t the combination of AM with other advanced technologies. Rather, the innovation lies in making available on the commercial market, the types of production cells that leading manufacturing operations have been experimenting with and deploying for years.

With that in mind, targeting the academic and job training markets first makes perfect sense: it’s likely that, from here on out, all new workers in the AM sector will have to know how to utilize the technology in conjunction with robotics and AM-tailored software platforms, in order to use it in real-world scenarios at all. This also suggests, therefore, that Ai Build has a significant advantage over other AM software platforms, given that the company has focused on combining the technology with robotics from its inception. Of course, that same likelihood, as well, would indicate that KUKA, headquartered in Germany and predominantly owned by Guangdong’s Midea Group, has a significant advantage over other robotic arm systems, in terms of its compatibility with AM-centered production.

Attendees of this week’s Formnext 2022 in Frankfurt, Germany can learn more about the AMCell_ at booth B39, in Hall 11.1.

Images courtesy of Ai Build

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