Stratasys, the supplier of additive manufacturing technology and also owner of additive manufacturing service provider RedEye, announced this week that it intends to acquire two other AM service providers: Solid Concepts and Harvest Technologies. The companies will be joined with RedEye to form a single business unit, Stratasys says. The result will be “one of the largest independent additive manufacturing parts providers in North America,” said Harvest president David K. Leigh in a letter to customers. (The photo above shows RedEye’s production floor.)
All three companies have seen additive processes move from prototyping into production of functional parts. Harvest calls this direct digital manufacturing; its additive manufacturing capabilities are qualified to produce flight-certified parts for both manned and unmanned aircraft, the company says. Solid Concepts recently demonstrated additive manufacturing’s effectiveness at making production-quality parts by growing the components of a working 3D-printed handgun. Meanwhile, Redeye has been thinking about the next step after 3D printing. To expand the range of potential production applications for its 3D printing capabilities, the company has been exploring finishing options.
For more detail about the acquisitions, read Stratasys’s announcement. For a clue to what this might mean, see this article quoting RedEye (long before the acquisitions) about the implications of a company being able to offer a large amount of additive production capacity.
The IMTS balloon made a recent appearance during The MFG Meeting
at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix.
These assertions apply equally well to the 2014 International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) and the IMTS hot air balloon, which serves to promote this important industry event and this important message: Manufacturing is clearly on the rise in the Americas.
IMTS show management has announced that the IMTS balloon will appear at festivals across the country leading up to its appearance at IMTS, which takes place Sept. 8 to 13 at Chicago’s McCormick Place.
“The IMTS balloon is an important visual object that supports our brand, big enough to be seen from a distance, and interesting enough to draw people closer,” says Peter R. Eelman, vice president – exhibition and communications at AMT – The Association for Manufacturing Technology. “As long-time IMTS visitors arrive at the South Building and see the balloon outside Chicago’s McCormick Place they break into smiles and say, ‘It's IMTS time!’ For new visitors it’s a visually striking and unexpected image.”
Grouping collet blocks together enables machine tools to machine multiple parts unattended. Collet blocks can be configured in a number of ways, including on tombstones and trunnion tables.
Collet-style workholding devices, such as collet blocks, offer a number of benefits. Collets automatically center parts to their center points known locations, they provide equal gripping pressure around a part’s circumference and expanding collet systems enable effective internal gripping of thin-wall parts. Grouping collet blocks together enables machine tools to machine multiple workpieces unattended over long stretches of time. However, should you go with pneumatics or hydraulics to actuate them? This article based on input from Hardinge offers advice.
The lens shown in the upper right corner of the image has an RFID tag for monitoring and sending data to the operator of the TruLaser 3030 laser cutting machine seen below.
Radio frequency identification, or RFID, tags are tiny wireless devices that work like smarter UPC barcodes. Like a barcode, an RFID tag records information about a product or other item to which it is attached. However, unlike a barcode, the RFID tag can track information about its subject over time and does not need to be scanned to be read—it can send its data wirelessly to a reader via radio waves.
The applications for manufacturing are endless—process traceability, tool use monitoring and more. Here’s another: Trumpf’s TruLaser 3000 series laser cutting machines now feature an RFID-equipped lens to record important maintenance information. The RFID chip monitors the lens’s degree of contamination and tracks when it is cleaned. Having this information on hand means that operators only intervene when needed and visual inspections of the lens aren’t necessary. According to Trumpf, leveraging the RFID technology can reduce cleaning times by as much as 40 percent.
To my knowledge, it’s not possible to print metal parts on a desktop machine. But MarkForged says it will soon be possible to print parts as strong as metal on a desktop machine.
The company will soon begin shipping its new “Mark One” desktop machine, which 3D prints with carbon fiber. This promotional video produced by the company gives a sense of how the machine applies strands of carbon to build rigid 3D forms.