Metal additive manufacturing (3D printing)
Renishaw's metal powder bed fusion is an advanced additive manufacturing process that builds complex metal parts direct from 3D CAD data in a variety of metals.
What is additive manufacturing (3D printing)?
Additive manufacturing is a process of creating a three-dimensional object from a digital file. It is called additive because it generally involves building up thin layers of material, one by one. The technology can produce complex shapes that are not possible with traditional casting and machining methods, or subtractive techniques.
Renishaw's metal additive manufacturing process
Renishaw's metal powder bed fusion is an additive manufacturing technology that uses a high powered ytterbium fibre laser to fuse fine metallic powders together creating functional 3-dimensional parts.
Renishaw apply metal powder bed fusion technology, as classified by ASTM International. The technology, however, is still often referred to as layer melting, metal additive manufacturing, metal 3D printing, laser sintering and metal AM.
The process is digitally driven, direct from sliced 3D CAD data. For each slice of CAD data a thin even layer of fine metal powder is deposited across the build plate, then the selected areas of the powder are precisely melted by the laser. This process is repeated building up, layer by layer, until the build is complete.
Renishaw's additive manufacturing systems can build in a range of metals, including titanium alloy Ti6Al4V, cobalt chromium, stainless steel, nickel alloys Inconel 625 and Inconel 718 and aluminium alloy AlSi10Mg.
- Multiple part consolidation - the number of items in an assembly can be reduced by designing as a single complex component.
- Reduce tooling costs - parts can be manufactured directly without the need for tooling.
- Access to complex geometries - internal channels for conformal cooling, hidden features, thin walls and fine meshes.
- Freedom from restrictions associated with traditional subtractive and casting manufacturing methods - when combined with applying new design rules.
- Lightweighting - only build material where it is required for optimum weight reduction
- Bespoke or customised items.
- Rapid design iterations right up to manufacture.
- Complementary tool – the additive manufacturing process can be integrated into current manufacturing processes to reduce steps, time to market and cost.
Which industries use additive manufacturing?
The early adopters of additive manufacturing included high-end automotive, aerospace and consumer goods customers. Applications are growing across industries with increasing use in dental, medical and tooling. Renishaw have dedicated teams providing healthcare solutions.
Advanced metal additive manufacturing is used to produce small numbers of industrial end use parts and an increasing number OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) are adopting it as a complementary technology and integral part of their production processes.
It is foreseeable that additive manufacturing will be integrated across all manufacturing industries.