3D printing, the process of creating three-dimensional, solid objects from a virtual model, has revolutionized the way we think of design and manufacturing. This technological innovation continues to evolve and have a transformative impact on many sectors of our society and economy. In the manufacturing sector, it has gained considerable momentum, with more manufacturers using 3D printing to produce prototypes and end-use parts. Typical materials used to make these 3D objects have been photosensitive polymers (liquid plastics) and metal powder. However, printing with metal has not been as widespread due to the significant expense, danger, labor, and time associated with current 3D metal printers in the market. Jim Blackwood and Tom Kruer, co-founders of + Manufacturing (Plus Manufacturing) are working to advance this technology and make it more accessible through the development of the +1000K.
Traditional 3D metal printing machines have many challenges serving as barriers to wider adoption in the manufacturing sector. They are expensive, with prices up to $1 million, and are hazardous due to the high power requirements and dangerous equipment needed to fuse the material. Also, 3D metal printers using a metal powder medium can take several months to fabricate a single part. Finally, the extremely large size of these machines can be a hindrance for manufacturers that do not have the available space to house them.
+Manufacturing, in partnership with Parker Hannifin, a leading manufacturer of motion and control technologies, has developed the +1000 to solve these issues and make large-scale, industrial 3D metal printing more efficient, easier-to-use and cost-effective. Kruer proclaims, “Our team of professionals is introducing a large format metal additive manufacturing machine that is safe, cleaner, faster, and less expensive than conventional and competitive offerings.”
The +1000 uses an Arc Metal Deposition (AMD) process with coils of metal wire as the medium instead of powder and is fully encapsulated to avoid exposure to molten metal or toxins. This results in a much safer, more rapid production process that reduces costs. Whereas other 3D metal printing machines are layering metals a thousandth of a millimeter in thickness at a time, the +1000 can produce up to 5mm layers. It is able to produce objects using both aluminum and steel and will have the capability to incorporate additional metals in the deposition process in the future. The size of the +1000 is more compact than typical 3D metal printing machines but is large enough (5ft. wide, 7 ft. tall, and 4 ft. deep) to produce large-scale, industrial grade objects.
Paul Saleba, an associate at +Manufacturing believes, “with the ability to make parts 24 hours a day with little operator oversight, this machine could pay for itself within 18 months to two years, whether making prototypes or production parts.”
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