Fully Automated Production Concept for Metal 3D Printing

With its binder-jetting technology Swedish company Digital Metal has already produced more than 300,000 components. Now they aim to improve its productivity by automating the processes.

Industry 4.0 isn’t just a buzzword. In fact, it’s put into practice day by day as you can see, for instance, in the rising popularity of automation across the entire printing industry. Nevertheless, this trend hasn’t really entered 3D printing applications yet. But in 2018’s final quarter Digital Metal announced the launch of a promising automation concept for metal 3D printing which aims to take their high precision binder jetting metal additive system to the next level.

Improving Productivity, Lowering Costs and Minimizing Waste

“Most additive manufacturing technologies show a very low level of automation. Our aim is to change that. With the new no-hand production line, our customers can further improve their productivity and lower the production costs. In addition the powders removed in the cleaning machine can be recirculated in the process, thus minimizing waste”,

explains Ralf Carlström, General Manager at Digital Metal. The Swedish company is known for high productivity, excellent surface quality and great resolution. In order to produce detailed components in high volumes, precision and accuracy are key. This is why they let robots handle most of the process steps. Now, Digital Metal even introduce automation into the powder removal step of their binder jetting technology.

To be precise, this means that robots load and remove the build chambers of a 3D printer and pass them for post-processing. In the following, powder removal operation automation comes into play in form of a CNC de-powdering machine and a pick-and-place robot allowing to fully recycle the remaining metal powder without degeneration of properties. Afterwards, the parts are added to sintering plates which are in turn sent to the debinding and sintering stage automatically, either in batches or for continuous production.

Automated Serial Production of High-Volume Components

“As we see it, the Digital Metal technology is now applicable for serial production of high-volume components. […] We believe there is a huge potential for our unique technology. Not only is it very fast and cost-effective, it is also able to create complicated and highly detailed designs with wide material choice”,

underlines Carlström.

Before adding automation to their processes, Digital Metal already convinced clients from the automotive and aerospace sectors of their technology. What do you think: Which other fields could benefit from their latest technological advancement?

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