Part Maker Sees Big Gains in Printing Metal Fixtures, Tools and Prototypes

June 3, 2020

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Part Maker Sees Big Gains in Printing Metal Fixtures, Tools and Prototypes
Based in St. Marys, PA, Alpha Precision Group (APG) manufactures, via pressing and sintering, and metal injection molding (MIM), components for the automotive, aerospace, defense and consumer markets. Speed is key to APG winning and keeping jobs, and 3D printing provides a big help here. The firm’s engineers work to speed the design and manufacture of jigs, fixtures and tooling―3D printing parts in only days and deploying them on the manufacturing floor in less than a week. Helping here is metal 3D printing via a Studio System from Desktop Metal, Inc., offering the company far more design freedom than conventional manufacturing, according to APG officials.

“The Studio System is enabling us to constantly be asking ourselves how we can do this better, resulting in significant time and cost savings,” says Nate Higgins, APG business unit manager. For example, rather than requiring staff to manually tighten and loosen part fixtures, engineers designed a custom-made ratchet screwdriver tool to automate the process. Using the Studio System, they printed the tool, with its complex ratchet assembly, in only a few days from 17-4 PH stainless steel. APG officials note 93-percent cost savings and 87-percent time savings as compared to traditional manufacturing.

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High-Performance Vacuum Debind and Sintering Furnaces
Centorr Vacuum Industries is a manufacturer of high performance vacuum debind and sintering furnaces for the 3D Additive Manufacturing furnace market, as well as units for Metal and Ceramic Injection Molding. Available with either metal or graphite hot zones, these units can process all of the most common metals including Fe-Ni, 316-L, 17-4PH, and Inconel powders and feedstocks as well as a variety of other materials including titanium, tungsten carbide, tool steels, and superalloys. The new Sintervac AM™ operates at pressures of 0-15 torr as well as positive pressures of argon, nitrogen, or forming gas for increased flexibility of processing binder-jetted parts, while the Workhorse AM™ is used for the heat treat, annealing, and tempering of laser-sintered parts. For more information, contact the sales department at 603-595-7233, sales@centorr.com or www.centorr.com.

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New Powder-Bed-Fusion Process Said to Hold Advantages Over Laser, EB
A U.K. company claims to have developed an entirely new powder-bed-fusion (PBF) process for metal additive manufacturing that minimizes existing speed and precision limitations associated with laser and electron-beam (EB) PBF, respectively. Wayland Additive’s NeuBeam, touted as a third PBF technology even though it employs an EB, reportedly neutralizes the charge accumulation generated by that beam. The NeuBeam process also is said to overcome many EB limitations for manufacturing large, complex metal components, namely no residual thermal stresses, no gas cross-flow and a much simplified powder-removal process.

“This offers greater flexibility than laser PBF while overcoming the stability issues of (traditional) EB PBF,” says Will Richardson, co-founder and CEO of Wayland Additive. “Both of these things mean that the NeuBeam process enables metallurgical requirements to be tailored to application requirements rather than to maintain the print process within the narrow bounds permitted by the process.”

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Laser Cladding Integrates with Robotic Loading for Batch Additive Repair
Optomec Inc. has debuted integrated robotic automation for its Huffman line of production of metal additive-repair machines. The package combines Optomec’s Huffman production laser cladders with a Fanuc LRMate 200, a compact, six-axis industrial robot with the approximate size and reach of a human arm.

“Before automated laser cladding, the workflow for turbine-blade repair was long and complicated,” says Todd Lorich, Optomec engineering manager for the Huffman line. “Optomec optimized the flow by combining vision systems, software and laser cladding into one hardened, production-grade process step. Now, adding robotic part handling inside of the machine completes the automation for the process.”

Industry News
Parts Maker 3DEO Achieves ISO 9001 Certification
How 3D Metal Printing May Transform the Military Supply Chain
Protolabs to Build New Production Facility in Germany
New Markforged AM-Trends Report Details 100-Plus Use Cases
French Tech Center Adding Desktop Metal Shop System

Spring 2020
In This Issue
Additive Manufacturing--A Path to Sustainable Success
AM offers a viable alternative to traditional manufacturing, and a cleaner one. Formed to promote these views: the Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association.

Mile-High Medical Manufacturing
Near Denver, CO, 3D Systems houses design, production and application support for medical and dental customers, supplying surgical training aids, surgical models, implants and instruments.

Coming in 3DMP's Summer 2020 Issue
  • 3D Metal Printing—New Machines on the Market
  • Case Studies: 3D Metal Printing in Action
  • Stepping Through the Additive Manufacturing Workflow For Part Qualification
  • Direct Part Printing Is the Future, Advanced Automotive Tooling Is The Now

Industry-Related Terms: Case, Center, Forming, LASER, Stainless Steel, Tempering
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms



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