Why This AM Milestone Fills the Capacity of Four CNC Lathes
Incodema3D is launching into its first continuous job to be produced with metal additive manufacturing, but more 3D printing also means more turning.
Production with additive manufacturing (AM) has always been the goal for Incodema3D. The company has been acquiring metal 3D printing equipment over the last seven years. In that time period, the company has helped customers develop and validate 3D printed parts while also engaging in some AM production work, primarily for the aerospace industry.
But while that work has been piecemeal—a few hundred parts per year, or a few dozen every few months—the meaning of “production” at Incodema3D is about to change. The company just recently launched into its first continuous-flow job to be made with metal 3D printing. Incodema3D will now manufacture about 5,000 cylindrical parts per month to meet this contract, an order that will keep four or five of its EOS M280 3D printers running two shifts a day.
This milestone doesn’t just mean more work for the company's metal 3D printers, however. As owner Sean Whittaker is quick to point out, there’s much more to production AM than just the AM systems. Part of the reason that Incodema3D has made the move to production AM successfully is that it already has the post-production capacity embedded within its facility and those of its sister companies. Keeping this continuous job running will require EDM work for part cut-off, laser scanning cycles for inspection, and machining time to refurbish used build plates.
Metal 3D printed parts are also machined parts in many cases. In this instance, each cylindrical piece has threads on each end that must be tapped, a task that will take four of the company’s CNC lathes running on the same two-shift schedule as the printers.
For Incodema3D, this is only the beginning. Over the next few years, the company expects to expand AM production from 40% of its operations to 80%. That will mean the addition of more metal 3D printers, but also more CNC machining capacity. Learn more about the company’s journey to this tipping point for production additive manufacturing in this article.
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