3D printing: The challenge of the future

We may not have realized it yet, but we are living a real industrial revolution.

There is no doubt that in the near future many things will be produced with 3D technology, reducing costs and energy consumption and giving us the freedom to imagine forms not constrained by the limits of the known manufacturing processes. To 3D printing we need atomized metal powders of the desired alloy. The purity of these powders will determine the quality of the objects produced.


Technology

We have researched and developed additive manufacturing technologies - including laser melting/welding - in conjunction with the University Politecnico di Milano and the company Renishaw. This partnership will allow us to carry out research on different topics: the materials to be used, the development of specific alloys to be used in this process, the way to improve performance, better strategies of orientation and stratification of the powders to obtain the best mechanical characteristics in the finished products.
Laser melting/welding is an emerging technology, suited to sectors like the orthopaedic and the aerospace industry, where highly customized items in very few quantities are required. Our goal is to introduce this technology in all sector. This technology introduces the possibility of producing pieces directly where they will be used. This could bring a real revolution in companies' organization.
The laser melting is an additive production process that utilises digital technologies and laser source focused energy in order to weld metal powders and create three-dimensional objects. The pieces are made from fine powders obtained by atomization from different metals or alloys. The production process starts from a bed of powders which are welded in a controlled atmosphere in layers of variable thickness between 20 and 100 microns.



Technical features of the plants used for the experimentation

The specifications of Renishaw AM250 laser additive manufacturing systems:

  • Laser fiber power: 200 W 

  • Operation range: 245 mm × 245 mm, up to 300 mm deep

  • Machining speed for 5 cmq to 20 cmq hour

  • Low power consumption

  • Diameter of the laser beam 70 µm


For more information regarding the machine:  click here 

The 3D printing advantages 

  • Production time reduction

  • Machining costs reduction

  • No need of tools for complex geometries

  • Most fitted for aircraft and medical production

 

Alloys (today available)

  • Aluminum  AlSi10Mg

  • Titanium Ti6Al4V

  • Stainless Steel 316L e 17-4PH

  • ​Cobalt-Chromium ASTM75

 

The 3D printer challenge

The 3D printing marks the beginning of a real industrial revolution. In the near future several new items will be produced with this technology giving us the freedom to imagine and create forms not constrained by the limits of the currently known production processes. The structural analysis necessary to optimize the weight and structures of the pieces through the use of software like Materialise MAGICS will be the next challenge to overcome in additive manufacturing technologies.

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