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Archive for June, 2019

RAPID + TCT 2019: AM Industry Continues to Explode with Growth

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

A couple weeks ago I attended the biggest and most important 3D printing/additive manufacturing conference and exhibition in North America, RAPID + TCT 2019. I was not disappointed and continue to be amazed at the number of new companies that continue to proliferate and evolve at this event put on by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME). This year’s event attracted over 7000 attendees, including approximately 50% who said they were first timers – always a good sign for event organizers (and exhibitors), and testimony to an industry that continues to enjoy large growth.

There were well over 400 exhibitors at RAPID + TCT 2019, so trying to see them all was an impossible dream. However, I did talk with several that had technologies that I felt were particularly innovative, and briefly discuss below (in alphabetical order):

CGTech VERICUT Additive Module — Simulates both additive and traditional machining (milling and turning) capabilities of new hybrid CNC machines. It provides CNC machine simulation for accurate laser cladding and material deposition. VERICUT reads the laser parameters, controls laser wattage, flow of carrier gas, and metallic powder specific to each job/material type. Simulation is powered by the same post-processed NC code used to drive the CNC machine, that enables users to ensure additive functions are within proper ranges. With the module, VERICUT makes it simple to alternate from additive, to cutting, and back to additive in any sequence.

For More Information:


Digital Alloys Joule Printing — Uses commodity wire as the raw material rather than expensive powders. It works with any metal in wire form. The technology is a simple, high speed process for melting wire into shapes with the following capabilities:

  • Rapid, precise motion and wire feed systems position the tip of the wire in contact with a desired printing (melting) location.
  • Once the wire is positioned, the system pushes current through the wire and part being printed and into the print bed. The current melts the wire tip using joule heating (aka “resistance heating”), the same principle that heats a coil in a toaster.
  • Melting and wire feed continue while the print head moves, laying down beads of metal which are fused together to form fully dense metal parts.

A key is that positioning and melting of the wire occur simultaneously in a single step. This simplicity lowers cost, saves time, and increases repeatability. There is no need for powder handling, feeding and spreading, no need for binding/debinding, and no need for sintering – and no need for the costs, time delays and variability that these steps can introduce.

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