AddUp, a manufacturer of industrial metal 3D printers, and Dassault Aviation, a French aerospace company, have announced a collaboration to move metal additive manufacturing processes from “prototyping” to “mass production” for aeronautics.
Both companies believe that for the aeronautics industry to remain and improve its competitiveness, it must address several issues, including increased global air traffic, a growing shortage of materials, part lightening and optimization, the pursuit of reliability and higher quality, and compliance with ever-stricter regulations.
One solution to these issues is to use metal 3D printing under industrial-scale production conditions. In this context, Dassault Aviation established the collaborative R&D project “AEROPRINT” with the help of a large number of partners, research institutions, academic institutions, and businesses, including AddUp.
What is the AEROPRINT project all about?
This 5-year project will create, qualify, and integrate a competitive pre-industrial demonstrator of multi-material metal additive manufacturing (Titanium and Aluminum) for the production of advanced aeronautical components certified in classes 2 and 3. Dassault Aviation’s Argonay facility in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (France) has been designated as a pilot site for this process’s integration.
AddUp is in charge of developing an innovative manufacturing system based on interoperability and process automation. The goal is to distribute the equipment while also ensuring proper isolation and circulation of the two materials chosen.
AddUp experts are reportedly working on a new type of closed enclosure that allows powder to enter on one side while a tray of metal parts exits on the other. This future workshop will include two production units of four FormUp® 350 machines that use powder bed fusion technology (L-PBF: Laser Powder Bed Fusion) as well as the necessary finishing means. Two AddUp PBF machines have been chosen for the task.
Following a phase of combined development and research to determine all of the project’s requirements, AddUp is now working on the full-size model to verify and test the principles maintained, from mechanical design to autonomy, not to mention the computer, which manages everything.
AddUp’s Simple UI
AddUp Manager’s ergonomic and simple interface,
as well as its ultra-fast trajectory generation engine, allow you to create production files by utilizing over 250 modifiable variables and customizable fusion strategies.
which is an important aspect of such a project,
will be carried out using the already available AddUp Dashboards software,
which will be supplemented by bricks developed specifically for this purpose.
Users can view real-time production data, monitor the shop floor, and quickly analyze any machine event using AddUp Dashboard.
One of the many pre-configured views in the software is a customizable map that displays real-time progress, remaining production time,
and the current status.
Users can thus use the same tool to access data from a previous production run and track production in progress.
What benefits does this automated workshop provide?
A delivery station located outside the workshop is where an operator loads the two metal powders,
which are packaged in industrial containers.
an automated conditioning station takes over the production tray and places it in a “jacket,” which is a mobile chamber.
Depending on the material, an Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) transports it in an inverted shuttle to each PBF machine. When the printing is finished, the shuttle transports the mobile chamber back to a depowdering station.
This same station recycles the majority of the powder that was not fused during printing before returning it for the next printing.
The shuttle then proceeds to the conditioning station,
where the tray containing the parts is extracted from the chamber and transported to the parts washing and drying station.
The latter is given a new tray and can resume printing. Before leaving the workshop and being taken over by the operator, the tray containing the parts is thoroughly cleaned.
A fully automated workshop offers many benefits. From the perspective of HSE, the operators don’t come into contact with the powder (Health, Safety, and Environment). They only perform maintenance inside the robotized enclosure; the rest of their work is done outside. From an industrial perspective, production repeatability is guaranteed once the process has been validated and qualified.
This automated workshop prototype will be the basis for a ready-to-use industrial solution for adding additive manufacturing equipment to existing workshops, ensuring the highest level of productivity and security.
Automated mass production in AM
The cost-effectiveness of 3DQue’s Quinly 3D printer automation upgrade on the Ultimaker S5 was successfully demonstrated last year, according to the Vancouver-based 3D printing startup. The Ultimaker S5 Quinly upgrade, according to preliminary test results, reduces printer operator time by 90% while lowering cost per part by more than two-thirds. With its automation upgrade, 3DQue hopes to prove the viability of mass-market metal 3D printing.
Another company, SoonSolid, a manufacturer of 3D printers and consumables,
targeted the needs of industrial mass production with its upgraded Mars Pro SLA 3D printer series.
The Mars Pro series, which includes the Mars Pro 600, 850, and 1600 SLA 3D printers,
is appropriate for prototyping, manufacturing, and rapid precision casting for applications in the automotive, art, architecture, and medical industries, among others. The latter model has a large expandable build volume of 1600 x 800 x 600 mm.