A noticeable shift at the show this year was greater emphasis on 3D printing for production applications. This year’s show also saw established makers of conventional manufacturing equipment exhibiting their own new additive manufacturing machines.
Editor-in-Chief, Modern Machine Shop
Additive manufacturing fills an entire hall at Euromold. This hall was consistently crowded, suggesting high interest or at least high curiosity around 3D printing technology.
Machine tool builder DMG Mori introduced a combination additive and subtractive machine. The five-axis machining center with a laser deposition head can rapidly build metal structures, while machining those same structures to precise tolerances as they are being built.
The machine tool builder used this part to demonstrate the new machine. The company created one of these parts during each day of the show. The additive features grown off of the central OD show the machine’s ability to reorient the part in five axes to build in different directions within the cycle. The drilled holes and milled mating surfaces employ the machine’s conventional machining capability.
In still another case of an established machine builder introducing an additive manufacturing solution, injection molding machine maker Arburg showed this 3D printer for plastic parts.
In the Arburg machine, the same plastic granulate is used that is also used in injection molding machines. The machine builds plastic parts by precisely placing melted droplets. A heated plasticizing cylinder provides the prepared plastic melt in the discharge unit, which features a nozzle closure with piezo technology enabling rapid opening and closing to produce the plastic droplets under pressure. Using the same material stock as molding is an important advantage for Arburg’s customers, because this machine now gives these molders an easy option for producing plastic parts in low volumes.
Renishaw’s additive manufacturing technology for metal parts is being used to create a lighter-weight titanium bike frame. Empire Cycles is “growing” bike component forms that have been engineered for material efficiency. Reengineering has already made the frame 1 kilogram lighter without reducing strength, and the weight savings will likely increase as engineers continue to refine the component forms.
The titanium bike components are grown simultaneously within a single additive production cycle, as this sample part set shows.
Stratasys introduced Nylon 12 material for its Fortus additive manufacturing machines, a production-grade material allowing for the manufacture of flexible 3D-printed parts. The material is tough and resilient enough for snap-fit plastic components such as the one shown here. Custom-printed production tooling such as contoured drilling fixtures for aircraft parts was another application the company showed for this material.
The strength of 3D printed materials is allowing additive manufacturing to advance into many manufactured products. This method of manufacturing is new enough that critical components of manned aircraft are not yet produced this way, but unmanned aircraft are a different matter. Production of drones is already an important market for additive manufacturing.
Increasing part production rate is one of the enablers that will allow additive manufacturing to find greater success in producing end use parts. In a laser-based additive build process, applying multiple lasers is one way to increase the production speed. Here, SLM Solutions opens the cabinet door on its new 500HL selective laser melting machine to show the hardware associated with the machine’s four lasers.
Increasing build size will be another important enabler. Here, Concept Laser showcases the build envelope of its X1000R “LaserCusing” machine.
ExOne’s largest additive manufacturing machines print parts in sand for use in metal casting. Making casting mold components directly in sand, without any need for a pattern or core box, permits not only more cost-effective casting, but also casting of complex geometries that would not have been practical or even possible with conventional casting molds. The sand-printed part at the right of the photo is an example of an intricate core-like component that was easy to produce through 3D printing.
Here is a natural step in the development of additive manufacturing technology toward end-use part production. The new 400M direct metal laser sintering machine from EOS features a setup station separate from the build area. In between is an automated system for clearing loose powder from completed parts.
As a result of its Phenix Systems acquisition earlier this year, 3D Systems added metals printing to its 3D printing portfolio. The company showcased the ProX 300 direct metal printer at Euromold. Using direct metal sintering technology, the ProX 300 produces fully dense metal parts, such as the one seen here with company president and CEO Avi Reichental. The machine’s material choices include stainless steel and tool steel, as well as non-ferrous alloys and superalloys used in the aerospace, automotive and medical device industries.
In an example of end-use custom printed parts in actual use at the show, 3D Systems’ exhibit also featured this band playing on instruments with 3D printed parts.
The annual Euromold show in Frankfurt, Germany is a leading event for showcasing 3D printing or additive manufacturing technology—that is, the technology for building solid models and parts though precise 3D layering of material. While the show in general is aimed at moldmakers, the range of additive manufacturing exhibitors at this show extends well beyond moldmaking to cover all industrial applications of 3D printing. In fact, a noticeable shift was apparent at the show this year compared to previous years. Additive manufacturing exhibitors overall gave less attention to design prototyping applications, in favor of greater emphasis on 3D printing for manufacturing end-use parts. Here are just a few of the sights the staff of Additive Manufacturing saw at Euromold this year: