Irwin, Pa.– Additive manufacturing (AM) is exploding on the manufacturing scene as leading companies are transitioning from “analog” to “digital” manufacturing in order to recognize cost saving and design benefits not possible through traditional manufacturing , said Dave Burns, President and COO of ExOne.
As the leading additive manufacturing company for the industrial manufacturing sector, ExOne works with a blue-chip roster of clients that include BMW, Sikorsky, Caterpillar and Ford. It has implemented additive manufacturing into the production processes at these and other leading industrial companies around the world.
“Major global companies have recognized that additive manufacturing can significantly reduce costs while offering design freedoms not previously possible and have begun to implement the technology into their manufacturing processes,” Burns said. “Additive manufacturing is a truly disruptive technology.”
3D Printing on an Industrial Scale
Additive manufacturing uses three-dimensional printing to transform engineering design files into fully functional and durable objects created from sand, metal or glass.
This advanced manufacturing process starts with a computer-aided design (CAD) file that conveys information about how the finished product is supposed to look. The CAD file is then sent to a specialized printer where the product is created by the repeated laying of finely powdered material (sand, metal or glass) and binder to gradually build the finished product.
Since it works in a similar fashion as an office printer laying ink on paper, this process is often referred to as 3D printing. The 3D printers can create a vast range of products for a host of industrial segments, including parts for use in airplanes and automobiles, to replace aging or broken industrial equipment, or for precise components for medical needs.
Manufacturers across several industries are also using this form of digital manufacturing to produce engine components for automotive applications, impellers and blades for aerospace use, patternless sand molds for pumps used in the oil and energy industry, and medical prosthetics which require easily adaptable design modifications.
“The moment is now for additive manufacturing; it delivers real benefits to manufacturing companies,” added Burns. “It has robust capabilities for a range of industries including aerospace, automotive and energy. It’s no wonder The Economist has already predicted that ‘factories of the future will have 3D printers working alongside milling machines, presses, foundries and plastic injection molding equipment in the business of making things.’”
The Next Industrial Revolution
There are tremendous cost advantages to using additive manufacturing. There is little to no waste in creating objects through additive manufacturing, as they are precisely built by adding material layer by layer. In traditional manufacturing, objects are created in a subtractive manner as metals are trimmed and shaped to fit together properly. The subtractive manufacturing process creates substantial waste that can be harmful to the environment.
Additive manufacturing is a very energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly manufacturing option. Industries looking to cut costs, to improve productivity and efficiency, to speed product development, and to spur creativity can introduce additive manufacturing in a variety of ways, from product prototyping to actual printing of component parts.
With reduced costs, improved efficiency, rapid prototyping characteristics and freedom from the constraints of design parameters of subtractive manufacturing, additive manufacturing fosters a new level of creativity.
From a design standpoint, what wasn’t physically possible in the past – from engine blocks to precision prosthetics – is now possible through additive manufacturing, leading many to believe additive manufacturing carries the promise of the next industrial revolution.
ExOne’s M-Flex Printer
M-Flex Printer INFORMATION
ExOne’s latest 3D printing system for metals, the M-Flex printer, is a state-of-the-art 3D printer, primarily designed for manufacturing metal parts in the mining, automotive and energy industries, and dramatically increases the capabilities of a 3D metal printer. It is simple to use and demonstrates higher productivity and accuracy than other machines on the market.
With a chamber size of 400mm x 250mm x 250mm, the M-Flex offers the largest build box for metal printers – or seven times the volume output of other machines currently in use. The printer can achieve build speeds up to 30 seconds per layer (compared to previous build speeds of one-and-a-half minutes per layer), making it the fastest metal printer in its class.
A Complete Solution: Idea to Printed Metal Part in Record Time
The M-Flex is simple to use and offers speeds 10x faster than previous generation machines.
Simplifies Your Operations
One click – simple user interface
No tooling required
Print in stainless steel, bronze or tungsten
Functional parts with superior wear characteristics
Fastest metal printer in its class
Flexible job box can print one prototype or short runs of multiple and/or custom parts
Changes can be made quickly
Highly-accurate printing process guarantees highly-accurate parts
Suited for complex geometry
Greater design freedom
At-a-Glance Machine Specification
- Build volume: 400 x 250 x 250 mm (15.7 x 9.8 x 9.8 in.)
- Build speed: 30 seconds/layer
- Build rate (100µm layers): 10 cm³ per layer @120 layers per hour = 1200cm³/hr = 73in³/hr
- Build rate (150µm layers): 15cm³ per layer @120 layers per hour = 1800cm³/hr = 110in³/hr
- Layer thickness: Variable with minimum of 0.100 mm
- Print resolution: X/Y 0.0635mm, Z 0.100mm (set by layer thickness)
- External dimensions: 1674 x 1278 x 1552 mm (5.5 x 4.2 x 5.1 ft.)
- Electrical requirements: 208V-240V / 3 phases
- Data interface: SLC, CLI
EXPECTED Technical Specifications
- Process cell including job box and roller conveyor
- Build volume l x w x h 400 x 250 x 250 mm (15.7 x 9.8 x 9.8 in.)
- Build speed 30 seconds/layer
- Layer thickness Variable with minimum of 0.100 mm
- Print resolution X/Y 0.0635mm, Z 0.100mm (set by layer thickness)
- External dimensions l x w x h 1674 x 1278 x 1552 mm (5.5 x 4.2 x 5.1 ft.)
- Weight TBD
- Electrical requirements 208V-240V / 3 phases
- Data interface SLC, CLI
- PM-S4-60-MP: ExOne 420SS material for printing 0.15 mm layer thickness
- PM-S3-60-MP: ExOne 316SS material for printing 0.15 mm layer thickness
- PM-I-MP: ExOne bronze material used for infiltrating stainless steel
- PM-TSP-MP: ExOne thermal support powder used during furnace cycle
- PM-B-MPrint-01: ExOne binder–polymer based ink for use with ExOne materials
- PM-C-MPrint-01: ExOne cleaner, required for all automated and in-process maintenance routines, dissolves ExOne binder
- All ExOne material systems are designed and engineered for the ExOne process and the ExOne M-Flex System.
- Each material system comprises ExOne’s patented binder and specially prepared formulated materials to ensure the highest quality.
- Currently available metals include 420 & 316 stainless steel & bronze, bronze and tungsten.
ExOne is the leading additive manufacturing company, providing 3D printing machines, 3D printed products and related services to industrial customers. The ExOne process – primarily using stainless steel or sand – gives traditional manufacturers an opportunity to reduce costs, lower the risk of trial and error and create opportunities for design innovation.
While others are utilizing additive manufacturing as a “prototyping” industry, ExOne is delivering consistent and fast turnaround service to customers across the globe in the aerospace, automotive, energy/oil/gas/pumps, and medical/biomedical spaces.
Headquartered near Pittsburgh in Irwin, Pa., ExOne has a global footprint that includes U.S. facilities in Troy, Michigan and Houston, Texas, as well as operations in Germany, Japan and Russia. For more information, visit www.ExOne.com.
Our sincere appreciation to Christina Binz and ExOne for permission to publish information about Sciaky’s exciting partnership
Christina Binz for ExOne