One step closer to first time right thanks to integration of AM

Additive manufacturing is almost ready for the production floor. However, several challenges still remain in relation to its industrialisation and upscaling.

For some time now companies have studied the options of additive manufacturing as a production technology for their components. Potential parts are screened or are under development. This will take the industry to the next level: the industrial production of the 3D printed components. The intention is to both make it an economic success and also achieve an industrial quality level.

Producing 3D printed components involves more than just the printing process. Several technologies are required before and after printing: besides the material supply, the 3D file and a suitable parameter set, heat treatment of components is often involved, as well as 3D scanning, post processing actions, quality assurance .... This and the 3D printing procedure itself are topics in terms of which the industry seeks to develop in-house knowledge. Not always to immediately start using the technology, but at least to be able to discuss the matter with potential suppliers.

Besides the increasingly interesting production and industrialisation aspects, the AM technology may also be implemented and integrated in an Industry 4.0 context. This means that 3D printers must be integrated in the production environment and that they have to interact with the rest of the production equipment. Transparency is needed to create a general production apparatus which focuses on quality and flexibility and which allows for certification of the entire system.

Integration of AM

An AM integrated factory, a pilot line which aligns additive manufacturing with other production technologies, may be a solution to overcome all these obstacles.

AM has indeed evolved to a stage where technology can be combined with other production technologies. Instead of setting up a production line in a backroom, AM can be embedded in the line, and thus bring first-time-right production a step closer and within reach of more and also smaller companies.

An AM integrated factory is a demonstration and research infrastructure, where a pilot setup is created for the production of components on an industrial scale. Such a pilot factory is not, however, aimed at manufacturing products, but does have the following objectives:

  • Development of know-how about industrialisation of the AM technology in a production environment.
  • The development of new production, finishing and quality control strategies for AM production.
  • Demonstrate the feasibility of the production of new products on an industrial scale.
  • Fine-tune the production of AM components together with other manufacturing steps for the launch of the production on a real industrial scale.
  • Build an integrated, transparent and agile production environment for the development of AM components which meet the criteria of an Industrie 4.0 factory. The product of this pilot factory is not the 3D-printed items which were created thanks to the infrastructure, but the knowledge that was developed with it and which is transferred or sold to customers.

Did you know that the development of such an AM integrated factory is currently in progress at Sirris? This installation is officially presented to the industry on 14 November. Keen to find out what the possibilities are? Come to the festive start-up at our site in Diepenbeek!

Sirris developed its own AM Integrated Factory in the context of the new EFRO project ‘Integration of 3D metal printing’.