Canvas Category Machinery : Additive Manufacturing : 3D Printer
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‘Revolutionary’ digital printing technology uptake expected to accelerate for packaging
The whir of a digital inkjet printer that spits out crisp, vibrant documents in mere seconds is a familiar reference to most Americans. Just as this innovation transformed home and office printing when it replaced legacy tools like the dot matrix printer, industrial-scale digital inkjet technology is now transforming the packaging space. Digital printing, on the other hand, does not rely on plates. Designers develop the desired image in a computer program and send the digital file to the inkjet mechanism that sprays ink droplets directly onto the packaging medium.
“Print is the traditional bottleneck in a converting facility, and if you remove that bottleneck you can streamline both upstream and downstream processes,” Wettersten said. “That’s where transformation begins to occur with digital printing, aligning systems and workflow and enabling new capabilities around responsiveness and flexibility.”
“What we’re seeing today is large corrugated companies starting to invest in web presses to totally change workflow,” he said. “The impact on lead times is rather eye-opening: You can take conventional lead times of 18 to 20 days for repeat orders down to fewer than five days on a digital press.”
HP and Materialise Partner to Drive Volume 3D Printing
As an HP preferred partner, Materialise will provide the industry with an end-to-end manufacturing solution that is integrated with an additive technology that is designed for productivity and scale — MJF and Metal Jet systems. As part of this partnership, HP will help customers identify meaningful use cases for the software platform, as well as showcase the solution at HP demo facilities and public events.
The seamless connectivity between HP AM technology and Materialise CO-AM enables users to create workflows that improve traceability, quality control, and machine utilization. Optimized 3D print job management allows production leads to track planned and actual printer activities and optimize machine time. To ensure continuous production, real-time machine monitoring provides operators and engineers with critical process data, including build status, material usage, and machine sensor data. This data can be collected and stored in log files of 3D-printed jobs to enhance traceability and quality control. In addition to their 3D printers, Metal Jet users can connect process-relevant HP machinery to the CO-AM platform, such as the Powder Management Station, Curing Station, and Powder Removal Station. This integration allows Metal Jet users to streamline the post-processing of metal parts within the manufacturing process.
HP partners with Elnik, GKN and Sandvik on Metal Jet
HP is focusing on further advancing and developing all aspects of its Metal Jet technology and, ahead of the Formnext show in Frankfurt, where the AM industry as a whole comes together to set the stage for the coming year, the company is presenting deals that are expected to improve various key aspects of the end-to-end metal binder jetting process. These include three key partnerships. The first is with Sandvik, one of the first companies to embrace metal binder jetting through partnerships with both ExOne (Desktop Metal) and GE Additive, on material development. Another one is with GKN Additive, a leading metal AM service that has been working with HP on Metal Jet from the get-go, on tooling and also material innovation (as GKN is also a provider of metal powders). And the third one is with Elnik, a leading manufacturer of furnaces for part sintering, to fine-tune this key aspect of metal binder jetting post-processing.
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John Deere Turns To 3D Printing More Efficient Engine Parts
The new thermal diverter valve on the latest versions of John Deere 6R and 6M tractors isn’t just an innovative application of increasingly accessible metal 3D printing technology, it’s the culmination of about two years of R&D. It started with a challenge to ensure John Deere tractors would perform in cold environments. Engineers were tasked with developing a valve that could maintain fuel temperatures without affecting engine performance.
Currently, more than 4,000 valves are being shipped from GKN to the John Deere tractor factory for final assembly at a price per part that is less than forging or milling. Tractors with this 3D-printed part are already in the field, literally. Müller says another benefit of 3D printing this particular part instead of using traditional methods, is added agility in the manufacturing process. Because 3D printing does not require molds or tools, part prototypes were faster and cheaper to create, which accelerated the design process. The design can be tweaked and improved at any time. Plus, when it comes to replacement parts, no standing inventory is necessary. The digital file of this value can be sent to any third-party manufacturer with HP Metal Jet technology and produced relatively locally and quickly.
AMFG Receives $8.5 Million in Funding Led by Intel Capital to Drive the Future of Fully Autonomous Manufacturing
AMFG Corp., a rapidly growing Manufacturing Execution System (MES) & workflow automation software for 3D printing, has secured $8.5M in funding led by Intel Capital to further catapult their spot in the new age of industrial transformation. As part of the most recent fundraise, Intel Capital investor Jennifer Ard is joining AMFG’s board of directors. With this new funding, AMFG will continue to help companies scale their additive manufacturing processes, further solidifying AMFG’s position at the forefront of the autonomous manufacturing revolution.
This financing round comes on the heels of a year of accomplishments for AMFG. These include expanding into the U.S by establishing a global headquarters in Austin, Texas, which places the company in direct contact with the region’s dramatically shifting manufacturing scene, and making strategic hires to the growing AMFG team. With this funding, AMFG will advance its vision to pioneer a path into the future of autonomous manufacturing.
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Breaking the Glass Ceiling of 3D Printing
Now having launched the S100, HP is anticipating a steady increase in the number of Metal Jet applications it has at scale. Pastor noted that it will take a process of ‘months and months’ to identify applications, assess the economics, carry out process development and then move forward. But he and HP are confident that, gradually, the technology will have a sizeable impact. “It’s not that this will be a ramp [with a steep ascent],” Pastor said. “And by the way, some of the 3D printing technologies, you have this step change [but] with a ceiling. Our approach is different. It actually will take time, but we will break this glass ceiling that 3D printing has right now.”
Metal Jet works by laying down a uniform, thin layer of metal powder across the build area before HP printheads jet binding agent at precise locations to define the geometry of parts. The liquid components of the binding agent then evaporate, with the process repeating until the build is complete. Once the build is complete, the powder bed is heated to complete the evaporation of liquid components of the binding agent and to cure the polymers to achieve high-strength green parts. Once cooled, the parts are removed from the powder bed via the depowdering process, with the green parts then moved into a furnace for sintering. When the sintering is concluded, the parts can undergo post-processing to meet dimensional and surface finish requirements.
Ocado showcases 3D printing innovation
Ocado has unveiled a new approach to building the robots in its fulfilment centres, which it hopes will dramatically improve efficiency and reduce operating costs. The company has developed a 600 Series bot, which it said can be built cheaper and is lighter than the current 500 Series bot. According to Steiner, the 600 Series grocery fulfilment bot “changes everything”. Ocado designed the 600 Series using topology optimisation, similar to the technique used in the aerospace sector to make aircraft parts strong but light. It then used additive manufacturing, in partnership with HP, to make 3D prints of the parts required to build the 600 Series.
Circular Economy 3D Printing: Opportunities to Improve Sustainability in AM
Within the 3D printing sector alone, there are various initiatives currently underway to develop closed-loop manufacturing processes that reuse and repurpose waste materials. Within the automotive sector, Groupe Renault is creating a facility entirely dedicated to sustainable automotive production through recycling and retrofitting vehicles using 3D printing, while Ford and HP have teamed up to recycle 3D printing waste into end-use automotive parts.
One notable project that is addressing circular economy 3D printing is BARBARA (Biopolymers with Advanced functionalities foR Building and Automotive parts processed through Additive Manufacturing), a Horizon 2020 project that brought together 11 partners from across Europe to produce bio-based materials from food waste suitable for 3D printing prototypes in the automotive and construction sectors.