At the end of last year, Davide Sher predicted that 2016 may see metal 3D printing move of a innovation capable of making tiny batches to a fully-automated method for serial making. Davide cited a number of machines in development that herald the age of serial metal 3D printing, but he may have left one system out: the Hyproline platform.
The Hyproline is the outcome of an EU additive making initiative began in 2012 to turn it into a high-performance production line for tiny series metal parts. After several years, the group of industry partners involved, that include researcher organization TNO and Swedish metal printing device developer Höganäs, have finalized the Hyproline system. The machine uses a much like platform as TNO’s PrintValley, that involves a conveyor belt mechanism to pass multiple create plates at a lower place a print head. The outcome is an automated assembly line that can create a variety of custom parts at high speed.
In this case, the Hyproline machine uses 100 create platforms, a 3D scanner, metal deposition, and laser machining to create 100 separate parts at speeds of 1-2 m/s. Once printed, the parts are machined and polished and removed of the printbed instantly. Parts can be created with 20 μm resolution of steel, copper, and titanium and, due to the skill to laser machine the metal, the surface roughness can be as satisfactory as 0.5μm. A Micro-Epsilon Scancontrol laser line scanner in addition allows for the machine to perform in-system high end control, that relies on CADfix software of International TechneGroup Limited (ITI) in the UK to inspect and analyze products, matching prints against their CAD files.
Frits Feenstra, senior project manager at TNO, says of the project, “The concept was first focused on SMEs in the electronics and aerospace industries, but has future application in other industries that create low volume, high precision metal parts. We are excited of additional developing this making platform to enable fully-integrated weight production of customized 3D printed products.”
Mark Gammon, ITI, comments of the use of CADfix in the platform, “CADfix is ideally suited for this type of additive making for the reason of its flexible, closely linked representations of geometry, ranging of continuous CAD geometry to discrete facetted geometry, such as facets, slices or point clouds. Access to multiple forms of geometry empowers CADfix to be applied quite effectively to all aspects of the AM geometry system chain. This endeavor was truly revolutionary for the reason of the high-speed of laser polishing of the metal parts, combined with 3D scanning to create multiple, one-of-a-kind parts in the same run, on the same production line.”
Altogether, the Hyproline system may be one of the many high end metal 3D printing devices yet created, tackling two of the largest problems in metal 3D printing: high end control and batch production. Both are being pursued by numerous companies at the moment, but this machine appears to combine both in a way that may be unprecedented. Davide quite well may have been right.