Fluid Power Journal

IMTS Day Three: Additive Manufacturing Pavilion Envisions ‘Democratization’

Welcome to the third day of the 33rd International Manufacturing Technology Show, which runs through Saturday at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

Sponsored by the Association for Manufacturing Technology, the biennial IMTS holds more than 2,000 exhibits set out in nine pavilions dedicated to various technologies. Among them is the Additive Manufacturing Pavilion, which hosts most of the world’s major AM machine manufacturers, along with materials and software suppliers and notable service providers.

The democratization of AM technology has arrived for some market segments and applications. Xact Metal (IMTS booth #433041) can offer its XM200C printer for prototyping, tooling capabilities, or low-volume casting alternatives at a starting price of $65,000. Its XM200G model meets the demands of high-performance use cases and starts at $95,000, well within the reach of job shops, workforce development organizations, educational systems, and in-house tool and workholding production.

For shops that want to combine subtractive and additive processes in a single machining center, Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies (HMT, IMTS booth #433137) offers its AMBIT technology. The company’s print-heads for laser metal deposition (LMD) fit into a standard tool holder. With the AMBIT FLEX, a dockable tool carousel enables interchanging tools for different deposit widths or metals. The AMBIT EDDY tool enables eddy-current inspection to confirm deposition quality, and the AMBIT LMD mPWR tool offers melt-pool monitoring. Applications include repair, correcting machining errors, and extending part life cycle by adding layers of high-performance materials such as Inconel.

High-volume solutions

Other AM Pavilion exhibitors help users manage affordability by increasing productivity. SPEE3D (IMTS booth #433027) developed a process called Cold Metal Spray technology that uses compressed air to propel aluminum, aluminum bronze, or copper metal powders at supersonic velocity. The kinetic energy of striking the target fuses the particles into a homogenous solid with an integrity that exceeds that of cast parts and approaches that of forged parts (integrity has been confirmed through extensive testing). The SPEE3D process is 100 to 1000 times faster than DMLS and does not require post-printing curing because there is no need for a binder.

When it comes to high-speed direct digital production of non-metallic parts, the Figure 4 technology platform from 3D Systems (IMTS booth #433104) enables tool-less alternatives to traditional injection molding or urethane casting processes with direct digital production of precision plastic parts, as well as ultra-fast same-day rapid prototyping. The solution is scalable with modular, expandable capacity to meet present and future needs.

In addition to high-volume printers, 3D Systems continues to introduce high-performance, production-capable Figure 4 resins for batch-run, end-use part manufacturing, and prototyping applications. They feature long-term mechanical performance and stability in indoor and outdoor environments and are suitable for highly complex applications in industries such as consumer electronics, automotive and motorsports, healthcare, industrial goods, and aerospace and defense.

Exploring the tech efforts from just a few of the 80+ exhibitors in the AM Pavilion at IMTS 2022 shows that the industry has been focusing on solutions that address capital expenditure, productivity, and order quantity issues.

IMTS 2022 features AM technology throughout the show. Look for hybrid systems in the Metal Removal Pavilion, new tooling specifically for AM in the Tooling & Workholding Pavilion, breakthrough software in Control/CAD-CAM Pavilion and metrology solutions for inspecting internal structures in the Quality Assurance Pavilion.

For more information about IMTS, visit www.imts.com/.

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