3D Printing News Briefs, May 11, 2023: RAPID + TCT Edition


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Today’s 3D Printing News Briefs is focused on announcements from last week’s RAPID + TCT! First up, AON3D previewed its new machine learning software at the show, and AMFG is partnering with RapidMade to use robotics to automate manual manufacturing tasks. Arkema and 3YOURMIND launched their Easy3D material selection platform, and 3YOURMIND also presented its new LTS release. GEMCO showcased its engineered solutions for mixing and drying equipment, and Wayland Additive finalized EWI’s purchase of its Calibur3 metal 3D printer. Finally, Eplus3D launched its new quad-laser EP-M400.

AON3D’s Machine Learning Thermal Optimization Software

Left: A transient thermal simulation from AON3D’s new software predicts print defects before printing a PETG part. Right: G-Code with optimized thermals produces better physical and aesthetic properties.

High-temperature 3D printer manufacturer AON3D previewed its machine learning-driven software for thermal optimization at RAPID, which adds polymer and thermal intelligence to the slicing process for material extrusion (MEX) to enable more consistent, higher-performing parts. Build preparation, or slicing, software, offers analysis and optimization capabilities for operations like support placement and toolpath behavior, but these solutions are typically missing what the company calls “an entirely separate dimension of thermal and heat flow behavior,” which could help improve dimensional accuracy, final part performance, and more. AON3D’s new software is a simulation engine build specifically for MEX, offering quick and accurate predictions on the behavior of heat flow throughout an object during 3D printing, which can then be used during build preparation for pre-build QA/QC, parameter optimization, post-print inspection, and more.

The software offers users full visualization of the heat flow and temperatures in the part, which allows them to see how specific process decisions can lead to specific outcomes and gives them the chance to make any necessary corrections, or define post-print inspection requirements. When used with the AON M2+ High Temperature 3D Printer and Readyprint filaments, engineers and manufacturers can use this quantitative data to make more informed decisions on design and process optimization and achieve more consistent prints. Additionally, AON3D’s software can output raw structured data so it can be used in other analytical software, and generated data is available at spatial resolutions down to 1/3 of an extruded polymer bead’s width; according to the company, this “transient simulation inherently accounts for complex part features and regions leading to strong and dimensionally accurate parts.”

RapidMade & AMFG Partnering for Manufacturing Automation

AMFG, a leading provider of MES software for manufacturing, and RapidMade are consolidating their partnership with a new joint offering that promises to improve manufacturing automation by reducing manual tasks. As they explained at their joint RAPID booth, in order to automate the in-between stages of the manufacturing process and enable a fully autonomous workflow, they are employing robotic solutions to perform these repetitive production tasks. This allows manufacturers to streamline the workflow, and more quickly and efficiently achieve production targets, while also maintaining both safety and quality standards. The two companies are offering a range of easy-to-use cobots, which can use self-learning to automate error-prone, lengthy manual tasks, like removing builds from the print bed, and free up human operators so they can work on more critical things.

“We’re excited to announce our partnership with RapidMade, which will bring us closer to our goal of automating more of the manufacturing processes that are still performed manually today,” said Keyvan Karimi, Founder and CEO of AMFG. “By combining our strengths, we aim to empower manufacturers to streamline their operations, increase efficiency, and maintain quality standards. We can’t wait to revolutionize the industry together and help manufacturers achieve a fully autonomous manufacturing workflow.”

Arkema & 3YOURMIND Launch Easy3D Material Selection Platform

Specialty chemicals and advanced materials company Arkema and on-demand manufacturing software provider 3YOURMIND have announced the launch of a material selection platform called Easy3D, which leverages the expertise from both companies to allow engineers, designers, and procurement officers to order parts according to specifications. When a user uploads a 3D part file, Easy3D evaluates it for printability, and offers a selection of Arkema’s advanced materials, listing various qualities like impact resistance and performance. Suggested materials can be compared based on technology, material family and grade, and part compatibility score. Once a user has chosen the appropriate material, parts can be ordered from a list of qualified suppliers, with the chance to compare price, location, and lead time. Users can also choose post-processing services, or leave additional information, before submitting and paying for the order.

“Arkema’s vision of Easy3D on-demand manufacturing platform aligns with how our customers envision the future of digital manufacturing,” said Stephan Galozy, Chief Product Officer at 3YOURMIND. “Arkema’s platform, powered by 3YOURMIND provides a network of 3D printing capacity with secure data flows between customers, Arkema, and certified suppliers. A fast production network ensures shorter lead times, makes additive manufacturing expertise more accessible, and reduces operational costs per part.”

The Easy3D platform is available for customers in Asia, Europe, and the United States.

3YOURMIND Offering Machine-Read Analysis of 2D Technical Drawings

Speaking of 3YOURMIND, the company also presents its new LTS release, soon to be available for its SaaS and on-premise customers and containing a very exciting feature: the ability to machine-read and evaluate 2D drawings. This technology is embedded in 3YOURMIND’s part identification and assessment processes, and supports multiple drawing formats by default. The software can process 2D drawings directly, which helps companies digitize parts at scale and save time. Customers can now automatically screen thousands of 2D drawings in 3YOURMIND, and receive fast responses about cost and printability estimates. This means that engineering teams no longer have to use 2D technical data to design 3D part files for printability decisions.

Several other improvements are included in this new release, including an improved layout of action items in part detail, faster loading of part list in production, filtering by customer groups for more functionality, and more; you can view the full update documentation here. For SaaS customers, if you don’t see immediate updates, they should be available soon. On-premise customers will get the installation package to take advantage of all improvements made over the last six months (Versions 22.11 to 23.4).

GEMCO Showcased Transformative Mixing & Drying Technology for AM

Because of mixing and drying equipment, metallic AM powders offer plenty of durability and strength. With more than 100 years of experience in the powdered metal industry, GEMCO provides engineered solutions for mixing and drying equipment, and is always working to help accelerate and improve AM powders. The company’s proven tumble technology helps achieve engineering-grade powder with superior final chemistry, homogeneity, and flow properties, and its equipment offers a proven design to enable reliability, great service life, vacuum drying that speeds up the process at lower temperatures, faster productivity, lower maintenance costs, and lot sizes from 10-1800 kg with full traceability. GEMCO’s blending process makes it possible to achieve the necessary virgin mix for clients, and excess powders can also be repurposed through recycling. At RAPID last week, the company showcased its mixing and drying equipment, which also uses monitoring and special grounding systems to help control explosions, which is a major industry concern.

“Mixing and drying have a direct correlation to the performance, strength, and durability of 3D metal, ceramic, and plastic-based materials. Our additive manufacturing mixing and drying equipment is a cost-effective and flexible alternative to designing and manufacturing 3D metallic, ceramic, and plastic powders for high-value components and critical applications in all the AM powder markets,” said GEMCO’s President and CEO Casey Bickhardt.

“Our experience as the No. 1 mixer in the pharmaceutical industry and being trusted by the FDA has let us become the leader in blending science and technology. Our unique design facilitates the reaction, homogenizing, drying, cooling, and reclamation processes all in one machine. This equipment represents the shortest processing for AM metallic, ceramic, and plastic powder mixing and drying. Reclamation allows for the re-use of expensive, unused portions of the AM powders without the need to purchase additional equipment. Waste is significantly reduced.”

Wayland Additive & EWI Finalize Calibur3 Purchase

Last year, Wayland Additive and EWI Inc signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that would have EWI purchase a Calibur3 metal 3D printer and install it at its New York research facility. The two recently announced that the sale has been finalized, and that the production-grade NeuBeam printer will soon ship, with Wayland’s shortened lead times, to EWI’s Buffalo Manufacturing Works. The purchase deal also includes an advanced, sustainable service agreement that uses Wayland’s new Mixed Reality (MR) capabilities, which are delivered through the user-focused MR performance support tool RemoteSpark. This tool combines both the digital and physical worlds by creating a supportive, hands-free environment that offers instant access to 2D and 3D holographic assets. This helps with operational efficiency, task completion, and training, as well as immediate secure, low-bandwidth audio and video calls with Wayland experts, so field engineers don’t need to travel from the UK to Buffalo if EWI needs assistance. EWI exhibited at RAPID last week, and was available to answer questions about the Calibur3.

“The team is very positive about adding Calibur3 to our existing metal AM processes at EWI and the new capability — and capacity — it will add,” said Ron Aman, AM Senior Technology Leader at EWI. “This system will enable us to extend the range of metal AM applications that we work on with our customers in the US and across the globe. We are also extremely pleased with the option to purchase the advanced MR service contract with Wayland. Their innovative approach to service engineering means that we will have full access to all of the digital assets we need, whenever we need them; as well as being able to call on any Wayland experts in a meaningful way, without having to arrange visits and travel between the UK and the US.”

Eplus3D Launched Quad-Laser Metal PBF Printer

EP-M400 Metal 3D Printer

Finally, metal 3D printer manufacturer Eplus3D, which also exhibited at last week’s RAPID, has launched a new quad-laser metal powder bed fusion (PBF) system. The new EP-M400 was designed to be more cost-efficient, as well as offer higher throughput and faster industrial production, and is tailored to customers looking to expand their business using large-format metal 3D printing, or beginning their entry into the metal AM world.

The new printer, based on the OEM’s EP-M650 and EP-M1250 multi-laser series, has an open system, which allows customers to customize and adjust print parameters in order to create a dedicated application parameter package, and it supports many materials, including tool steels and die steels, aluminum alloys and copper alloys, nickel-based alloys and titanium alloys, and more. The EP-M400 is available in a single-, dual-, or quad-laser configuration, and features a standard build chamber of 405 x 405 x 450 mm, which means it should work well in many metal AM applications with not much investment required. With its multi-laser scanning strategy and the company’s unique wind field design, the printer offers consistent part performance and high production efficiency.

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