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Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.

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

June 5th, 2019 by Sanjay Gangal

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.

For More Information:

Dyndrite Additive Manufacturing Toolkit (AMT) – AMT is written in Python and based on the Dyndrite Kernel (a GPU-native geometry engine, capable of representing all geometry types and handling additive specific computations such as lattice, support, and slice generation).

AMT aims to streamline the CAD-to-print workflow for improving overall productivity and efficiency from prototyping through to the production phase.

With AMT, users can:

  • Print parts directly from CAD data, bypassing the error-prone STL/repair process
  • Generate lattices at machine resolutions quickly and easily without slowing workflow
  • Generate supports based on intent, not parameters and guesswork
  • Take advantage of script interactive workflows that eliminate repetitive and menial tasks.

For More Information:

Fabrisonic SonicLayer 1200 — Provides Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing (UAM) technology at a relatively affordable price (<$200k). The SonicLayer 1200 features a build envelop of 10” x 10” x 10” (X,Y,Z). The patented UAM process developed by Fabrisonic combines a unique room temperature metal deposition process with the ease of traditional CNC milling (with a Tormach machining spindle). The SonicLayer 1200 features the same hybrid additive and subtractive process with all internal and external surfaces having a CNC Finish.

The machine allows complex arrays of smooth internal channels and is still driven by the same industry standard G-Code. Just like large UAM machines, they also feature solid-state bonds at low temperatures (<250 F), that allows welding dissimilar metals and embedding electronics (sensors) into fully dense metal parts.

For More Information:

Formalloy Alloy Development Feeder (ADF) – As an innovative development for the company’s directed energy deposition systems, the ADF enables high throughput bulk alloy synthesis for development of new materials and alloys.

The need for new alloys optimized for additive manufacturing is not only evident by researchers and materials companies, but for end users as well. In particular, end users of additive manufacturing in the aerospace and automotive industries are investing in new materials that have superior properties to the traditional materials which were developed for traditional manufacturing processes.

In addition to new alloy development, the ADF enables precise deposition of gradient materials. Each layer is pre-alloyed to ensure composition accuracy for detailed gradient strategies that are not achievable with other processes. Gradient parts can offer enhanced material properties and simplification of multiple-part assemblies made of various metals into a single part.

For More Information:

Formlabs Form 3 – A new Low Force Stereolithography (LFS) 3D printer employs an advanced form of stereolithography (SLA) that delivers consistent parts. The LFS process uses a flexible tank to drastically reduce the forces of the peel process, providing incredible surface finish and detail, and linear illumination to deliver accurate, repeatable parts.

Benefits of the LFS process include:

  • Incredible detail and surface finish: because a flexible tank dramatically reduces forces on parts while printing
  • Pinpoint precision: the Light Processing Unit (LPU) maintains a uniform, high density laser spot to ensure accurate, repeatable prints
  • Easy clean-up and smoother parts with tear-away light-touch supports
  • Nonstop printing: Integrated sensors help maintain ideal print conditions and send you alerts about the state of your machine
  • Constant uptime with upgradeable, modular components
  • Remote Print: 3D print from anywhere via the online Dashboard.

For More Information:

Innovmetric PolyWorks Collaborative Suite – The suite forms a digital connectivity solution for metrology that includes:

  • PolyWorks|Report Loop that parses the contents of a PolyWorks inspection project within Excel and writing formulas that query PolyWorks data in spreadsheet cells, instead of writing fixed values.
  • PolyWorks|DataLoop is a digital connectivity solution that leverages an existing Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system to digitally interconnect all those who capture, or need access to, 3D measurement information, improving teamwork efficiency.
  • PolyWorks|PMI+Loop transforms the measurement planning process into a digital collaborative workflow between the design team, the manufacturing team, and the measurement team.

For More Information:

ParaMatters CogniCAD 2.1 – An upgrade to the company’s cloud-based topology optimization software platform.

According to the company, CogniCAD is the only generative software product with a fully automated workflow based on in-house developed topology optimization, high-resolution finite-element analysis, and computational geometry.

Launched in 2018, the CogniCAD platform was designed for automatically generating light-weighted structures for both aerospace and automotive applications. It operates with imported CAD files, which are analyzed regarding its loading and design criteria.

According to ParaMatters, CogniCAD 2.1 is capable of outputting generative designs that are prepared for 3D printing in both STL and STEP formats in minutes. This upgraded version also includes functional design capabilities such as stress, compliance (stiffness) and deformation constraints which minimizes unsupported areas or supports volume and enhances areas requiring reinforcement.

For More Information:

Stratasys MakerBot Method — Based on Stratasys technology, not RepRap (as previous MakerBot machines were), Method is designed to deliver industrial reliability and precision by carefully controlling every aspect of the 3D print environment, resulting in repeatable and consistent parts with ± 0.2 mm dimensional accuracy as well as vertical layer uniformity and cylindricity.

Until now, this level of precision has been limited to industrial-grade 3D printers. The dual extrusion system found in Method combined with water-soluble PVA provides a superior surface finish, and enables unlimited design freedom and unrestricted geometries, such as complex overhangs without scarring. Price is under (US)$7000.

For More Information:

RAPID + TCT 2020 takes place April 21-23, 2020 at the Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, California.

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