Digital Metal launches a hands-free production concept for 3D metal printing

15 October 2018

Credit: Digital Metal

Metal components 3D printing firm Digital Metal have launched a fully-automated ‘no-hand’ production concept, whose process steps will be handled chiefly by a robot – eliminating practically all manual work.

The said robot will feed the printer with build boxes and then move the boxes for post-treatment in a CNC (computer numerical control)-operated de-powdering machine combined with a pick-and-place robot. There, the remaining metal powder will be removed and recycled, and the parts placed on sintering plates. The main robot will then move the plates to the sintering furnace for combined de-binding and sintering, either in batches or for continuous production.

“Most AM technologies show a very low level of automation,” says Ralf Carlström, general manager at Digital Metal. “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.

“Almost all manually-intensive work can be eliminated, and in addition, the powders removed in the cleaning machine can be recirculated in the process – thus minimising waste. As we see it, the Digital Metal technology is now applicable for serial production of high-volume components.”

Digital Metal introduces automation during the powder removal stage of production, namely as an initial step towards full no-hand production. During de-powdering, the CNC-controlled movements are based on the information from the printing process. All removed powder is collected and recycled without any degeneration of properties.

Continued Carlström: “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.”

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