Metal 3D printing is not new. What is new is the ability to deploy metal 3D printing as a modular, scalable solution offering uniform results and repeatable quality. The 3D Systems DMP Factory 500, created in partnership with GF Machining Solutions, offers a set of function-specific modules designed for 24/7 production of metal additive parts. Removable Print Modules (RPMs) and Powder Management Modules (PMMs) are the heart of the system, with other modules providing supporting processes for continuous production. Tied together by leading additive materials and software, the DMP Factory 500 is tuned to grow as a manufacturer’s needs grow into the Digital Metal Factory.
The modular approach enables continuous operation. Instead of one 3D printing chamber where processes must take place sequentially, parts move through function-specific chambers. The practical genius of the Industrial Revolution — machines that repeat the same process over and over — is reborn as specialized chambers for each 3D production process.
The DMP Factory 500 can print a batch of 300 nozzles on a specific orientation, then immediately start producing 300 nozzles on a different orientation, or a completely different product. No down time, no retooling. Continuous production plus the ability to match the number and type of modules required for each project minimizes manual processes and reduces operational costs. A large build volume (500 x 500 x 500mm) and the use of multiple lasers enable fast throughput.
The Digital Factory for metal offers both additive and subtractive manufacturing operations. A partnership with GF Machining Solutions provides a novel referencing and clamping system. Zero point clamping enables optimal positioning of the 3D printer build plate, facilitating quick transition from the 3D printer to post-processing steps. This patented integration reduces set-up times and provides enhanced flexibility by quickly transitioning the build plate from the additive process and sending it downstream for post-processing, saving significant time and money.
Metal mold design for plastics manufacturing is another area where additive manufacturing processes can revolutionize workflows. Engineering consulting firm B & J Specialty has developed processes for reducing mold design time by 75 percent and production employee hours by 50 percent. It creates conformal cooling inserts that maintain lower temperatures during production runs. These inserts can mean the difference between successful production and catastrophic failure, and can reduce heat variation in the mold by more than 86%. These results are achieved through the integration of design software to create conformal mold designs, and metal additive manufacturing. The additive process is capable of building molds with internal structures too complicated for traditional manufacturing processes, with a smoothness that rivals traditional methods.