How Robots and Additive Manufacturing Work Together
The July issue of Additive Manufacturing magazine takes a close look at the ways automation and AM overlap, from part handling to 3D printing with robotic arms.
Robots can tend 3D printers, but they can also be used to manipulate the print head. Here, Addere’s system deposits weld wire using a laser head mounted on a Kuka robot.
Robots and additive manufacturing (AM) are both transformative technologies, with the potential to decrease labor, reduce costs and disrupt the way products are made. But what happens when these two technologies work together?
In the cover story, Evco Plastics explains the process to integrate this Universal Robots cobot with its 3D printers. Read more.
The July 2019 issue of Additive Manufacturing magazine explores how robots and AM intersect in various ways. In our cover story, injection molder Evco Plastics shares its experience integrating a cell of six 3D printers with a collaborative robot (cobot). The work that the cobot performs (removing build plates with finished parts and starting the next cycle) is similar to how it might serve a machine tool, but the integration process required ingenuity and creativity. Evco now has an automated cell that can run 24/7, giving this company the capacity to take on production work that previously would have been cost-prohibitive to injection mold.
But part unloading isn’t the only way that robots enter into AM. Other stories in this issue include:
- Addere’s robot-based metal 3D printing system (shown above) uses standard weld wire to build large parts, with a deposition rate that can reach 50 lbs/hr.
- Research into robot “swarms” could enable a new, ultra-efficient era of 3D printing and automated manufacturing.
- A San Diego startup is exploring multimaterial metal 3D printing and new ways of thinking about design through Laser Metal Deposition (LMD) technology, now compatible with robotics.
- Custom 3D-printed grippers made in house are allowing Bilstein of America to get the most out of its cobots.
Additive Manufacturing Conference
This issue also includes a preview and guide to the Additive Manufacturing Conference + Expo, a three-day technical conference, exhibit hall and business networking event focused on the industrial applications of additive technologies for production. Register here.
Analyzing directed energy deposition and powder-bed fusion provides a thorough understanding of the extra machining necessary for a “near net shape” versus a “net shape” manufacturing process.
A dedicated AM facility is helping the company discover the technology’s potential for design as well as production.
A new metal AM system for batches of end-use parts was designed to permit productivity and machine pricing comparable to a CNC machine tool.