To help you keep up, you can check out our feature story in PT’s March issue, which addresses materials advances and limitations. Here on the blog, meanwhile, is some interesting news in the additive manufacturing space announced just this week.
A partnership to develop a new large-scale additive manufacturing system capable of printing plastic components up to ten times larger than what are currently produced, and at speeds 200 to 500 times faster than existing machines has been formed by Cincinnati Inc. and the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).
Signed earlier this week at ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn., the partnership agreement will aim to introduce significant new capabilities to the U.S. machine tool sector, which supplies manufacturing technology to a wider range of industries including automotive, aerospace, appliance and robotics. The partnership supports DOE’s initiative to increase the efficiency of U.S. manufacturing and continue the development of innovative technologies.
Already under development, the prototype of the large-scale additive manufacturing machine utilizes the chassis and drives of Cincinnati’s gantry-style laser cutting systems as the base, with plans to incorporate a high-speed cutting tool, pellet-feed mechanism and control software for additional capability.
Cincinnati’s experience in designing, making and controlling large-scale manufacturing systems as well as its long working relationship with ORNL—they have supplied over 40 metal working machine tools to ORNL and its subcontractors over the years--led to this partnership. The company was the first laser-cutting system manufacturer to use high-speed linear-motor-axis drives, developed in-house, with accelerations exceeding 2.0G and head positioning speeds of up to 10,000 in./min. The proprietary drives deliver positioning accuracy of +-0.001 in. per axis, with work envelopes up to 8 ft. x 20 ft. “We have the largest installed base of high-speed laser-cutting systems, so this machine platform has been field tested and proven to be virtually trouble free,” says Cincinnati Inc.’s CEO Andrew Jamison.