Integrating metal 3D printing and flexible post processing
Priority AxisTechnological and Social Innovation
Lead partnerStichting Hogeschool Rotterdam (HR)
Project budget3 553 244 €
ERDF amount2 007 085 €
Additive Manufacturing (AM) is the process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing methodologies. A major challenge for the industry is to move this emergent technology forward from its prototyping history into a true manufacturing capability. The process has the potential to revolutionise design, production and supply of parts, but exploitation has been limited, especially for AM of metal parts, because the post processing of AM manufactured parts is too costly in terms of time and energy.
To design, develop and implement one efficient, fast and affordable post processing solution based on existing technology that can be part of an integrated system for post processing AM parts. This will help to significantly increase the possibilities for 3D metal printing in industries that need high precision manufactured metal parts, eg medical industry, semiconductor industry, maritime industry, aviation, and new emergent cleantech industries that will be able to produce metal parts through 3D printing that are lightweight and/or more efficient.
The project aims to result in a reduction of production time of 50% and a reduction of production cost of 30% of post processing by developing new applications for its integration into a 3D production chain, like integration of CAM, the mapping of printed parts, a solution for flexible clamping and a solution to integrate the surface polishing step in the 3D printing process. A prototype of a setup that can be integrated in conventional machining companies upgrading them to higher standards, or in other sectors of industry will be tested and demonstrated on ten demonstrator companies.
Cross border approach
Knowledge and skills are dispersed among the regions, with this project they can be aligned. For this project, we need expertise and skills on both 3D printing and on high precision post processing and on the needs of maritime, aviation, semicon industry in the 2Seas area. Our partners have this knowledge and the power to actually implement the needed activities to reach the output of the project. It will provide the partners with the chance to combine knowledge, facilities and research capacity into strong partnerships and be able to tap into the innovative potential of the regions.
In 2017 the research conducted resulted in the definition of the state of art of the different post processing steps and the requirements for integration of post processing. Based on the results in 2017, the focus in 2018 was on the development of the post processing solution (WP2). After finishing Workpackage 1, Design, integration of post processing and 3d metal printing proved to be an IT and interfacing challenge. Each process step has its own, unique requirements, in which data integration of CAD, CAM, scanning and CNC milling is key in creating a flexible post processing procedure. An algortihm was developed, generating a specific machine code, the NC-post. Through this algortihm the CAM NC-code is adjusted by considering the optimal fit and its scanned orientation, resulting in the specific NC post which allows to directly mill the clamped object to its net shape. This algorithm is an universal and flexible post processing solution, fitting most existing CNC machines.
In 2018 the partnership succesflly presented the project and results during the RapidPro and Prototype fair, resulting in an increase of targets groups and two extra user cases. The application of the Fast Prototyping Approach resulted in a request for modification of the Application Form. This request was submitted in December 2018 and approved in January, 2019.
In 2019 the 3D&FPP partnership finished and presented the results of their research into integrating 3D metal printing and flexible post-processing. The preliminary demo setup was presented during the Future Flux Festival and the setup of the proof of principle and demonstration of the Flexible Post Processing Solution during the 3D&FPP Demo Event on September 19th. After presentations on the project and the research conducted, a live demonstration was given on the flexible post processing solution, addressing both the advantages and benefits of the solution. The partnership wrote one integrative report containing all info on the project, the FPP, the conclusions and reductions achieved, possible applications and some recommendations for future developments. This report comprises output reports O4 (Proof of principle) and O5 (Demonstrated user cases) and is available for downloading on the 3D&FPP website.