INDUSTRIAL AM THE FUTURE IS N ADDITIVE INDUSTRIES RUN US THROUGH THE COMPANY’S HISTORY AND VISION FOR THE FUTURE
n 2012, when Daan Kersten and Jonas Wintermans decided to branch out into the AM market with their own 3D metal printing company, the business partners made a promise to one another. The duo saw an undeniable opportunity to industrialise additive manufacturing and they both agreed, rather than sitting back with a wait-and-see style, they were going to be hands-on and take an active approach by tackling obstacles head-on. Their new enterprise: Additive Industries At its inception, Additive Industries was designed to be different to other AM companies. Instead of heading straight to the drawing board to immediately design its own 3D metal printer, Kersten, Wintermans and Mark Vaes - the first to join as Additive Industries’ CTO - opted for an entirely different approach. They were going to take their business on a world tour to speak directly to potential customers in an effort to find out what users thought of existing machines and what exactly the market wanted.
PRODUCTIVITY IS KEY
The results from their face-to-face interactions with customers around the globe yielded an unexpected result, as there was a great deal of consensus among users looking to push the technology forward: productivity was key. Up to this point, additive technologies were mostly utilised in the prototyping realm, where price is not a huge factor. However, to enter the
SERIES PRODUCTION HELICOPTER PARTS
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stage of industrialisation and series production, cost reduction is essential and the best way to achieve this is through higher volume production, increasing yield by improving reproducibility and by reducing the number of operator hours it takes to run the complex printers. Committed to ushering in the future of digital-based AM fabrication, the Eindhoven-based technology company took the customer feedback with them to the drawing board during the design process of the MetalFAB1 – its first commercially available industrial 3D metal printer. Aimed at delivering the most productive machine of its kind, the company went against the grain of the competition and opted for some very distinct design choices. The MetalFAB1 has many unique features. For example, the machine has auto-calibration capabilities, which are essential to reproducibility and a key differentiator between building one-off prototypes and series of identical parts. Additionally, its build size is the largest symmetrical volume commercially available. Additive Industries was the first to apply four lasers simultaneously to build parts in this large volume. Additionally, only the MetalFAB1 has an in-house developed dynamic laser assignment software to guide its system of four lasers to work in tandem, with each individual laser capable of covering the full field of the build plate. A stark contrast to the few competing multi-laser systems where each laser is assigned a specific zone with minimal overlap. When these lasers are used to build large products, each laser works in its independent area and then the product is stitched together after the fact.