ADIRA AddCreator changes paradigm of powder-bed fusion metal 3D printing

ADIRA
may not be a name familiar to many in the 3D printing
industry. With a 60 year history, the Portuguese company is
more widely known in the sheet metal processing sector for it’s
range of Press Brakes, Shears and Laser Cutting
Systems.

ADIRA first launched
an additive manufacturing system at the 2016 edition of

EuroBLECH.
Visitors to formnext 2017 saw how that concept from last year
had developed over the following 12 months. One of the parts
demonstrated during the Frankfurt trade show was a bladed
turbine disk.

A bladed turbine disk 3D printed on the ADIRA AddCreator.A bladed turbine disk 3D
printed on the ADIRA AddCreator.

I asked Filipe Coutinho, Product Development Engineer AM
team member at ADIRA, a few questions about the AddCreator
metal 3D printing system.

“a change in the paradigm of Powder-bed Fusion
processes”

The AddCreator on display during formnext 2017 was

boldly announced
as The World’s Largest
Metal Part Printer. “We currently have a work volume of
1000x1000x500 mm, which could imply the production of parts up
to 0.5 cubic meters,” explains Coutinho. “Nevertheless, our
process is scalable in every direction (something exclusive to
the current market), making it possible to scale the process to
the requirements of the user.”

ADIRA’s AM system was under development for the past 2
years and uses a technology the company call Tiled Laser
Melting, it is based on a powder-bed fusion (PBF)
system.

In contrast to other metal PBF 3D printers, the
AddCreator has a segmented build chamber, and this is key to
producing larger parts. “The build chamber, unlike other
solutions currently on the market, is moveable and modular,”
says Coutinho. “This means that we move it around the powder
bed area during the process, instead of keeping it at one fixed
location.”

In short, we create the powder layers in the
conventional way, however we process them in smaller
segments, specifically 250×250 mm tiles. After the layer is
set, we move the process chamber over the powder bed and we
scan the required areas for that same layer, afterwards
moving it outside of the working area for the deposition of a
new one.

The principle is the same for larger parts, dividing them
in smaller segments. “By using proprietary scanning strategies,
we are able to overlap scan fields and guarantee the correct
“stitching” of the solid volume (in the end resulting in one
single part).”

Coutinho describes this as “a change in the paradigm of
Powder-bed Fusion processes, which up until now resorted to
fixed scanning systems over a fixed area for
processing.”


The photo of the 900mm long conceptual cooling nozzle
below illustrates the potential for large horizontal
work.

The 900mm long conceptual cooling nozzle 3D printed on the ADIRA AddCreator.The 900mm long
conceptual cooling nozzle 3D printed on the ADIRA AddCreator.

Aerospace, Automotive and integration with industry

The ADIRA AddCreator currently uses non-reactive metals,
with development work focused on parameter sets for steel
alloys. Work is underway to create further settings that allow
3D printing with other alloys including Inonel, and possibly
Cobalt-Chrome. Reactive metals, including aluminum and titanium
are a further objective.

An early supporter of the AddCreator
is 
Poly-Shape,
an additive manufacturing service bureau based in France.
Poly-Shape will be the first customer for the
AddCreator.

Coutinho says other “innovative added-value segments as
well as the more conventional heavy-duty industry” are also
addressable markets. This includes the Aeronautical industry
who are “looking for large-part manufacturing through AM when
it comes to satellite antenna frames, for example, large
weight-reducing structures.”

In the Automotive sector the AddCreator may have
application, “targeting bio-frames as a way to reduce weight
and the amount of parts needed for assembly.

Furthermore, integration with more traditional industrial
processes such as injection molding is envisioned. “The molding
industry is looking for ways to incorporate large inserts with
conformal cooling and heating channels, reducing the cycle time
for plastic injection and improving the return on investment,”
says Coutinho.

Adira's Addcreator claims to be the World's Largest 3D Printer. Photo by Michael Petch.Adira’s Addcreator
claims to be the World’s Largest 3D Printer. Photo by Michael
Petch.

The first system developed by ADIRA uses 400W lasers, but
this can be increased if a customer requires. Furthermore,
because the Tiled Laser Melting process is scaleable, ADIRA has
“flexibility in developing special tailor-made solutions for
its customers,” when it comes to build volume specifications
also.

The AddCreator is likely
to be joined by other 3D printing systems from ADIRA in the
future.

More information about the ADIRA AddCreator is
available
here.

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