Formnext 2019: Additive Manufacturing is booming

PCV members Bart Velthuizen, Stefan Ostermann, Luc Vinkenvleugel and Maarten de Lange travelled to Frankfurt to visit the largest European fair of the year in the field of additive manufacturing: Formnext. In the Frankfurter Messe, two halls, each with 2 floors, were packed with stands of nearly 900 companies that are all active in this rapidly growing and emerging industry.

All manufacturers of 3D printers presented the latest generation of their printers during the fair and were enthusiastic about what made their printers so unique. Of all these parties, one company stood out: the Dutch company Additive Industries. They presented a complete “print factory” in the middle of their stand: the MetalFAB1.

In this device it is possible to perform several production steps autonomously one after the other. The system consists of two print chambers, a powder removal system, and the system has the option to relief stresses and prevent deformation by means of heat treatment. All the different steps can be carried out autonomously one after the other, as there is a robot that can move the building plates from station to station. With smart integration of all these steps, it is possible to keep this device up and running 24/7. As a result, the printer can be used for serial production and thus as a fully-fledged production method.

Other examples of interesting (new) printers were:

  • The Arburg freeformer can best be described as a combination of an injection molding machine and a 3D printer. This “printer” has an extrusion screw in which the same plastic granulate is melted that a normal injection molding machine would use. (upper left photo)
  • The AMpolar® i2 multi-jet printer has a unique rotating print bed that allows it to print both exceptionally quick and with great precision at the same time. The printer can also apply multiple materials in one process. (upper right)
  • CNC Speedform has retrofitted an old SLS printer with only standard components so that all maintenance from now on can take place in-house for a fraction of the normal costs. (lower left)
  • The Small Box of BLB Industries is their smallest model, but even this printer is enormous. The device has a construction volume of 1x1x1.5 meters and is equipped with an 8 mm nozzle which enables it to print up to 8 kg per hour. This printer also uses plastic granulate as a base material. (lower right)

In addition to all the technical innovation, many parties showed in their booth what beautiful products can be made with additive manufacturing. The photos give a small insight into the diversity in materials and shapes that can be printed. One very recognizable example was the mock-up of the L’OR Promesso coffee machine from Douwe Egberts, which was developed in collaboration with PCV Group.

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