Cambridge, UK, 23 February 2016 – International TechneGroup Limited (ITI) is pleased to report successful conclusion of an EU additive manufacturing (AM) initiative where new developments in CADfix, ITI’s advanced geometry processing solution delivered key breakthroughs in AM geometry handling. The goal of the EU initiative, known as “Hyproline”, was to build a working demonstration of a high performance AM production line for small series metal parts.
The Hyproline platform promises to enhance the competitive position of Europe’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Program researchers focused on three different metals: stainless steel 316L, titanium and copper and serial production of customized parts on the order of 10mm with a goal of 10,000 parts per day. Challenges included increasing the quality of 3D printed metallic parts, an area where CADfix contributed through improved slice generation from CAD, and processing of inline 3D scanning and laser ablation with real-time point cloud capture and 3D comparison, culminating in generation of customized laser tool-paths for live use by the continuously running production line.
“The concept was initially focused on SMEs in the electronics and aerospace industries, but has potential application in other industries that produce low volume, high precision metal parts,” stated Frits Feenstra, senior project manager, TNO. “We are excited about further developing this manufacturing platform to enable fully-integrated mass production of customized 3D printed products.”
AM is maturing but improvements in accuracy of 3D geometry and CAD files, and improvements in post-processing, are critical for reducing costs, reducing production times and increasing quality and reliability. Managing the data flow for scanning geometries with very high precision and processing that information fast enough to allow the AM process to become adaptive is becoming a key issue in driving the wider adoption of AM.
ITI’s CADfix translation, repair and defeaturing solution was used to prepare CAD geometry for the additive manufacturing step for Hyproline, to convert the point cloud to the 3D surface and to compare the as-produced 3D object with the CAD model while on the production line, and finally to generate tool paths to drive the laser ablation stage of the production line.
“CADfix is ideally suited for this type of additive manufacturing because of its flexible, closely linked representations of geometry, ranging from continuous CAD geometry to discrete facetted geometry, such as facets, slices or point clouds. Access to multiple forms of geometry enables CADfix to be applied very effectively to all aspects of the AM geometry process chain”. For the Hyproline platform, CADfix was comparing the point cloud scans to the as-designed CAD to extract the excess material to be removed by the laser processing stage” said Mark Gammon, ITI. “This endeavor was truly ground-breaking because of the high-speed of laser polishing of the metal parts, combined with 3D scanning to produce multiple, unique parts in the same run, on the same production line.”
This consortium began as a result of an EU FP7 Factories of the Future Program grant awarded in fall 2012. Formal consortium work concluded in August of 2015. Primary objectives were to reduce time-to-market, to reduce waste, and to reduce the number of rejects.
About International TechneGroup (ITI)
International TechneGroup Inc. began in 1983 with a mission to help manufacturers drive innovation and time to market by applying computer-aided product development to engineering problems. Today, ITI is the global leader providing reliable interoperability, validation and migration solutions for product data and related systems. Our customers recognize the value in having a trusted solution partner that provides more than just software. ITI solves complex product data interoperability problems so that the world’s leading manufacturers can focus on making great products. www.iti-global.com
About the Hyproline consortium
The general objective of Hyproline is to strengthen the competitiveness of the European industry by introducing manufacturing methods, which allow companies to reduce time-to-market and number of rejects, make more customized and innovative products with a higher market value, and to make products over 20% more accurate with considerable savings (>30%) in consumption of waste metal, fluids and services, with an equivalent reduction of CO2 emission. For more information visit: www.hyproline.eu
TNO (Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research) is one of the major contract research organisations in Europe, staff of approximately 3000 and an annual turnover of 500 million Euros. TNO functions as an intermediary between basic research organisations and industry. By translating scientific knowledge into practical applications, TNO contributes to the innovation capacity of businesses and government. TNO is involved in many international projects (about 30% of the market turnover), including EU-funded collaborations. The expertise covers the whole process from basic (material) research, design and engineering to manufacturing and testing of products and systems. The focus is on innovation in the areas of high-tech systems and materials. TNOs department of Additive Manufacturing focuses on AM processes, materials and AM equipment manufacturing. 12 FTEs are dedicated to AM related research whereas another 10 are in supporting technologies (software, machine shop, AM fab lab). Successful IP track record (20+ granted) and AM machine exploitation examples (e.g. Printvalley AM machine). www.tno.nl