Merging Manufacturing Technologies at IMTS 2012
A live demonstration of embracing both subtractive and additive manufacturing was one of the highlights for me at IMTS. Machine tool builder GF AgieCharmilles and EOS showcased an innovative start-to-finish manufacturing process chain that creates actual titanium tibial trays for surgical knee implants.
The manufacturing process started with an FEA/CAD design, developed using WITHIN Medical software, of a lightweight, yet strong tibial tray. The part’s extremely complex geometry involves variable pore sizes on one side (to promote osseointegration) and a smooth surface on the other (to support loads on the tibia). An EOSINT M 280 direct metal laser-sintering (DMLS™) system then automatically built the component as a single near-net piece, layer by layer. The final step was surface machining, first on a Mikron HPM 450U 5-axis milling machine, then with a CUT 20P wire EDM machine, both from GF AgieCharmilles.
“This blend of our technologies goes far beyond what most other product developers are presently doing,” says Gisbert Ledvon, Director of Business Development at GF AgieCharmilles U.S. “We have combined the visionary design and manufacturing capabilities of WITHIN and EOS with our long-established production expertise and high-precision equipment. The result is a cutting-edge turnkey manufacturing system that operates with very little human intervention and a minimum of scrap material.”
While the demonstration at IMTS was of a medical component, this type of process chain is applicable to practically any industry. Andrew Snow, Regional Sales Director, EOS of North America, Inc. explains, “A look around the booth shows attendees the range of parts possible for aerospace, automotive, tooling with conformal cooling, consumer, and other sectors as well.”
Joining them in th ebooth is Dr. Siavash Mahdavi, CEO of WITHIN. “Our software and the partnership between EOS and GF AgieCharmilles points the way to others who wish to explore the benefits that design-driven, additive manufacturing can bring.”