Ian Howe, CEO of Additive Industries, on How to Improve Operational Efficiency and Productivity with Metal 3D Printing
Netherlands-based metal 3D printer maker Additive Industries has revealed how it plans to exercise ‘productivity leadership’ across the industry ahead of this year’s Formnext trade fair.
According to company CEO Ian Howe, “reducing the cost per kilogram” of printed parts is “the biggest challenge facing the industry”. To get around this problem, Howe says the company aims to increase machine productivity by at least 30% every year, and targeting exclusively the 3D printing industry, he has now revealed his intention to launch the High-speed ‘MetalFAB G2’ at Formnext next month.
“The industry has worked in niches for the last twenty years,” Howe explained. “To truly drive the penetration of 3D printing into large-scale applications, we need to continuously reduce the cost per kilogram of manufacturers every year and drive what we call leadership in productivity. “
“If you look at the G2, it’s a vastly upgraded platform, which represents a major leap in productivity over just two or three years ago,” Howe added. “We plan to have ‘base’, ‘continuous production’ and ‘automation’ offerings, each of which will provide customers with significantly improved productivity and cost per kilogram leadership.”
A modular metallic AM approach
Additive Industries was formed following a wave of advancements in metal 3D printing in 2012, in the city of Eindhoven, which quickly became a hub for like-minded tech companies. With close local access to supply chains, mechatronics and optical expertise, the company was able to quickly launch its first system: the MetalFAB1 in 2016, a machine that continues to bring benefits to its customers in aerospace, automotive, industrial, energy and high-tech verticals.
Designed to manufacture components on an industrial scale, Additive Industries’ first 3D printer is particularly modular and can be chained in configurations of up to eleven systems if desired. This, combined with its automated processing capabilities, allows the machine to achieve higher part throughputs than comparable 3D printers and allows users to tailor their production to meet customer demand.
“From the start, we focused on creating a powder bed fusion (PBF) technology that could compete with traditional component manufacturing technologies such as casting, forging and machining.
One of the first to adopt MetalFAB1 was Scalmalloy producer APWORKS, who has since continued to work with additive industries, with the goal of qualifying printed aerospace parts for mass production. In the Formula 1 world, the system’s rapid throughput also made it ideal for meeting the weight reduction needs of the Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN team, and its car featured 143 3D printed parts last year.
Over the past five years, Howe says Additive Industries has now grown its platform to the point that it delivers “stable, high quality, industry ready” parts, but to really get things done. level up and become “the driving force behind large-scale metal fabrication”, it must begin “to bring the greatest possible gains to OEMs”.
What is “productivity leadership?” ”
When it comes to making metal 3D printing a viable alternative to traditional large-scale manufacturing, Howe says modularity and reducing the number of human-powder interactions during production is critical to success. However, the CEO of Additive Industries also points out that balancing part quality and throughput optimization is a battle his company is waging “every day of every week”.
“It’s always a compromise between productivity and quality,” explains Howe. “Yes, we can increase productivity with more powerful lasers, but at the end of the day you also have to ensure the quality of the parts. We continue to optimize laser power, build volume, and gas flow configurations, just to make sure we always deliver quality. “
Having successfully optimized their machine setup in this way, Howe believes Additive Industries now has the productivity leadership needed to bring the benefits of 3D printing to other customers in the automotive, aerospace, industrial and energy sectors, and greatly expand the market. in areas where he sees “great opportunities” for the company.
In fact, by partnering with the company’s customers and jointly prioritizing application development, Howe can see the company’s technologies meet market demand in excess of € 4 billion per year. metal 3D printing industry and access the larger 100 billion euro high-value metals market.
“As we seek leadership in productivity and reduce costs, the envelope opens, as does the basket of applications that become economically feasible,” Howe added. “Prices have to be respected, but by following our innovation roadmap, we see that we can help customers double their productivity every two or three years, so that’s our plan. “
Formnext and MetalFAB G2
Additive Industries’ biggest novelty at Formnext 2021 is expected to be the launch of the MetalFAB G2 system. Designed to provide “best in class” productivity leadership, the machine is intended to be marketed in three main configurations: core, automation and continuous production.
Along with its new system, Additive Industries also intends to announce innovations that improve both the accessibility of its machines and the quality assurance capabilities of users during operation. To help customers deliver more consistent parts, the company is set to unveil a multi-beam qualification tool that Howe says represents a “big step forward” in quality assurance for multi-laser systems.
Additionally, the company plans to reveal the integration of a beta version of Sigma Labs’ PrintRite3D offering into MetalFAB, as well as the launch of the latest construction processor it has developed in partnership with Materialize and Additive Studios, a new additive manufacturing consulting firm. training services and program.
Finally, the company’s Formnext showcase is also expected to include an update on the latest key applications of its technologies. Specifically, Howe says the company has progressed by partnering with Japanese machining company Makino, with which it has created an end-to-end process chain for scaling metal 3D printing.
“We have very ambitious growth plans,” Howe concluded. “Our vision is to be the driving force behind large metal additive manufacturing and to work with our partners to deliver the best, largest and fastest possible solutions. “
Those wishing to learn more about the company’s technologies can either meet its team of experts at Formnext from November 16 to November 19, 2021 in hall 12.0, stand D119, or visit the Additive Industries product page.
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The image shown shows Additive Industries CEO Ian Howe and the MetalFAB1 3D printer. Photo via additive industries.