Researchers from the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Coimbra (FCTUC) and the Norwegian independent research organization SINTEF have developed a new large scale robotic 6-axis metal printer. The new machine can process parts from all angles while managing complex codes and simulations. The researchers from both institutions tout is as an example of the next generation of additive manufacturing systems.
According to the researchers, they developed the 6-axis metal printer as a means of adapting the existing AM technologies into a system of automation and integration of technology. It appears to have worked in a number of ways. For one, the technology provides a high level of accuracy and complex machining capabilities. So much so that leading steel manufacturer Tata Steel has already taken interest in the system.
Machines with an impressive number of axes (even six) appear on and off within 3D and metal printing. However, this is one of the first to feature high-functioning processing capabilities from all directions. These capabilities work in tandem with highly sophisticated coding, which was one of the main hurdles in development. The system also gets a fair share of its accuracy and efficiency from simultaneous simulation software.
Metal Printing & Simultaneous Simulation
The simulation technology gives it a distinct edge over existing systems of similar axes as it allows the printer to avoid the trial and error system that’s most common in current machines and instead solve problems in the print as they arise. As a result, the system corrects the parameters of the parts in real time.
“Simultaneous simulation, which covers several variables and parameters, such as hardness, temperature, phase changes in the material, allows to immediately correct any anomalies that may arise,” explains Norberto Pires, professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at FCTUC. He is heading the project along with a consortium of research centers at the New University of Lisbon.
The consortium has already submitted this project to the European Union with the help of an estimated that €2 million. This investment will be a boon to the final version which, they believe, is a potential tour de force in metal printing, particularly aerospace and oil/gas applications.
Featured images courtesy of TVEuropa.