Free access to the supplier database pool, technology papers, and global market information!


Industry news

Pilot Project for Automated 3D Metal Printing Successfully Completed
Industrial 3D printing - The new era has begun

The NextGenAM pilot facility currently consists of the EOS M 400-4 four-laser system for industrial 3D printing with metal materials. The system is used in combination with the peripheral solutions of the EOS Shared-Modules concept. Additionally various machines for post-processing and quality assurance are installed. The innovation about the production chain is that the individual steps and the interaction of all additive and conventional process steps are fully automated and integrated, and manual steps have been eliminated. As a result, complex, lightweight and at the same time robust components can be manufactured and the high level of automation forms the basis for profitable production going forward.

The "NextGenAM" joint project has so far demonstrated great potential for spare parts and series production in terms of manufacturing costs. The aim is to develop a pilot plant for an automated additive manufacturing process. 3D printing is thus well on its way to further establishing itself as an additional production method in the automotive and aviation sectors.

The pilot plant set-up in the NextGenAM project for automated additive manufacturing in detail, from left to right: Band saw, Kuka robot, behind it: 3D measuring station (Geometric Optical Measurement / GOM), set-up station, unpacking station, in front of it: Transport vehicle (AGV), EOS M 400-4, not in the picture: Powder Station IPM M Powder Station L from EOS.

The aim of the pilot project was to develop a next-generation digitized production line capable of producing aluminum parts for the automotive and aerospace industries much more economically than was previously possible. The successful outcome of NextGenAM: In relation to the entire production process at Premium Aerotec, the manufacturing costs could be reduced by up to 50 % compared to previous plants for 3D printing.

Fully Automatic Production
The secret lies in a sophisticated, scalable additive production chain, which is fully automated until the printed parts are mechanically cut off from the support plate. This means that from data preparation and central powder supply through the actual AM construction process to heat treatment, quality assurance and separation of the components from the support plate, no manual work is required. The technical core of the system is the four-laser EOS M 400-4 system for metal-based industrial 3D printing. A driverless transport system and robots ensure a smooth passage of the parts through the entire production line.

1. Networking of All Machines

The entire production process controls itself without operating personnel via a central, autonomous control station. The basis is the networking of all the machines used. The order data is transferred to the control station, which prioritizes the individual construction orders and assigns them to an AM system. During the construction process, the production status can also be called up from any location. Once the entire production chain has been completed, the quality reports are sent back to the central control station. This provides all the data required to create a digital twin, which, among other things, enables comprehensive traceability.

2. Capacity Can Be Extended at Will

A continuous 3D data chain with integrated quality management makes the production plant one of the first applications of the future standard Industry 4.0. Production is completely scalable: The capacity of the factory can be increased by duplicating the production lines. This promises further substantial savings in the future as the number of units increases. Today's pilot plant is already capable of producing components automatically in series quality.
3. High Product Quality Is Standard

High product quality is standard in the pilot plant: For aerospace parts, the use of a high-strength aluminum-magnesium-scandium alloy (also known as scalmalloy) is planned. In the automotive sector, a classic aluminum alloy (AlSi10Mg) is used, the material properties of which have been continuously improved in the course of the pilot project. Among other things, the material strength values and the surface quality were significantly increased compared to the start of the cooperation two years ago.


3D Printing as a Production Method of the Future

After the previous quality checks have been passed with promising results, an audit according to the specifications of the strict industry standard VDA 6.3 is in preparation. At Daimler, this is a prerequisite for the delivery of series components for a contract printing supplier. With the automation of the complete AM production chain, larger quantities will be possible in series production - with the same reliability, functionality, durability and economy as with components from conventional production. Parts for new vehicles can be optimized for 3D printing at the design stage, which promises further cost advantages. In addition, 3D printing results in weight advantages, which is of particular interest for electric vehicles. For spare parts, 3D printing has the advantage that storage costs can be saved in the future - if parts are manufactured "on demand" instead.


Tags:   3D printing ,  

Shanghai New International Expo Centre, No.2345 Longyang Road, Pudong New Distrct, Shanghai, China

Date & Opening Times 
July. 15, 2020  09:00AM-17:00PM
July. 16, 2020  09:00AM-17:00PM
July. 17, 2020  09:00AM-17:00PM