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Formnext 2019: Bigger-than-ever AM industrial expo opens in Frankfurt

18 Nov 2019

This year's event marked by world premieres, strong dynamic growth, and a partner country program with USA.

Thanks to a range of world-firsts, this week’s Formnext (Frankfurt, 19 – 22 November 2019) is once again the go-to event for innovation in additive manufacturing and modern production technologies.

”New developments on display come from a wide variety of areas all along the process chain, from high-performance materials for 3D printing and new and faster production systems to advanced holistic solutions for industrialized additive manufacturing,” says event organizer Mesago, part of the international network of the Messe Frankfurt Group.

Formnext 2019 sees an increase in number of exhibitors to well over 800, covering more than 50,000 square meters. A notable highlight of this year’s expo is partner country, the USA. Besides being represented by 50 exhibitors – including AM leading players such as 3D Systems, Carbon, Desktop Metal, ExOne, HP, and Markforged – the US has its own separate agenda of various supplementary activities. Among these is the AM Standards Forum, the second of which will continue the effort to develop globally uniform standards.

On Formnext Partner Country USA Day, Wednesday 20th, visitors will have a varied program of events at the US pavilion (Hall 12, Booth E-101). In two "pitch fest" sessions, 10 US-based companies will present their AM solutions.

Below, optics.org presents some of the key laser-based announcements from this year’s event.

Optomec‘s Pure Copper Directed Energy Deposition AM process

Optomec, a privately-held developer of additive manufacturing equipment and software has developed a pure copper AM process, based on its LENS directed energy deposition (DED) systems. (Hall 12, Booth C-61).

“Pure copper is a big challenge for DED systems because of its high reflectance,” said Tom Cobbs, product manager for Optomec LENS systems. “The infrared wavelengths on most standard, laser-based AM systems are not readily absorbed by copper, making it difficult to establish a melt pool as the laser energy is reflected back into the source, causing all kinds of havoc.

“Our laser-based solution is virtually immune to any back reflection, so the laser can operate at full power on reflective surfaces without any difficulty. Optomec engineers have developed process parameters to account for thermal conductivity differences, as well as big changes in absorption and have demonstrated efficient DED builds with pure copper.”

Establishing a DED process for pure copper is particularly important for designers of heat exchangers in a variety of industrial applications in industries such as aerospace and chemical processing. The Optomec copper process is also applicable to alloys of copper such as bronze, brass and cupronickel.

NXT Factory launches QLS350 collaboration with Evonik

NXT Factory, a pioneer in the development of Quantum Laser Sintering (QLS™) for high speed production of thermoplastic parts, is launching its QLS350 3D production platform at Formnext. (Hall 11, Booth B-21). The package is said to “bring together new levels of automation and production speed with digital twin predictability and integrated quality sensoring to serial production customers and service providers.”

To bolster its range of production grade polymers, NXT Factory has collaborated with polymer manufacturer Evonik to expand the performance and reach of final-parts applications for customers using the QLS350 system. NXT Factory plans to demonstrate its QLS350 3D production platform with continuous live printing throughout Formnext at the XponentialWorks in the Frankfurt Messe. NXT Factory is inviting industry practitioners, qualified resellers and strategic partners to visit and witness first-hand the power and potential of this new class of production printers.

“The new technology of NXT Factory offers further possibilities for our polymer formulations and is a perfect fit for our ready-to-use materials as well as for strategic material development. It is our goal to provide new material systems to further diversify the market for 3D printing materials and drive it towards serial production,” said Thomas Große-Puppendahl, head of the additive manufacturing innovation and growth at Evonik.

NXT Factory is building its first customer experience center based on its Additive Manufacturing Cluster at the XponentialWorks campus in Ventura, California. The first of its kind, AMC will consist of three QLS350 printers and seven autonomous print chambers. The cluster will be equipped with automated powder handling and management systems consisting of breakout, mixing and refresh. The AMC is designed to help customers accelerate the adoption of QLS across all stages of their additive pursuits; from product design to production.

Real-time monitoring for additive manufacturing

Renishaw is presenting its AM technologies at Formnext. On Wednesday, 20 November at 15.30, Renishaw will be on the TCT Introducing Stage in Hall 11 to present its real-time process monitoring systems for AM. (Renishaw is exhibiting in Hall 11, Booth D-15).

David Ewing, Additive Manufacturing Product Manager at Renishaw, will deliver a talk titled “Real-time process monitoring accelerates process development and streamlines process control.” While AM enables quick and customisable production of complex designs, the risk of imperfections poses challenges for many in the industry.

Renishaw is showcasing its InfiniAM Spectral, a software product capable of real-time process monitoring. Thois package allows manufacturers to analyze processes in 3D as designs are built, which improves understanding of build quality. When used with the intelligent sensing capabilities of Renishaw RenAM systems, InfiniAM Spectral software allows users to view and analyze the hidden details of metal AM products, increasing confidence in the build process.

“As metal AM becomes widely-adopted in the production process, a reliable method is needed that can detect, identify and eliminate the causes of defects,” said Robin Weston, Marketing Manager for Renishaw's Additive Manufacturing Products Division. “Real-time spectral monitoring can provide high-speed, high-resolution data, which enable traceable production and process optimisation to ensure that parts meet quality standards required in critical applications.

Renishaw is also presenting case studies of some of its collaborations, such as with the Brunel University Formula Student racing car. The vehicle demonstrates the effectiveness of AM in automotive applications by creating a custom manifold part using Renishaw's multi-laser RenAM 500Q system.

Collaboration with Sandvik

Renishaw, is collaborating with Sandvik Additive Manufacturing to qualify new additive manufacturing materials for production applications. This encompasses a broad range of metal powders, including new alloy compositions that are optimised for the laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) process and which provide superior material properties.

Sandvik has worked with Renishaw AM systems since 2018 at its Additive Manufacturing Centre in Sandviken, Sweden. During this time, the two companies have worked together to develop process parameters for a range of Sandvik metal powders, including stainless and maraging steels, and the latest Osprey® nickel-based superalloys.

Sandvik has recently inaugurated a state-of-the-art titanium atomiser and powder processing facility and will now turn its focus to qualifying these alloys for industrial and medical applications.

Universe Kogaku America Inc.CeNing Optics Co LtdABTechLASEROPTIK GmbHECOPTIKLaCroix Precision OpticsSPECTROGON AB
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