The Matsuura LUMEX Technology has completely disrupted the part design paradigm. Instead of starting from a block or some other traditional geometric shape, the designer now begins with a blank page to ‘grow’ their designs for lightest weight, sleekest design, and most efficient use of material.
The use of the term, “sintering” is a generic description of the process that most Metal AM machines use. The technology utilized in the Matsuura LUMEX series is more accurately described as Powder Bed Fusion with “selective laser melting.” For the Hybrid technology, this machine configuration provides the most benefits and allows the user to capitalize on the unique features that can be created with the Matsuura LUMEX Hybrid.
The Matsuura LUMEX technology complements the milling process by utilizing Powder Bed Fusion. This technol-ogy provides excellent stability and repeat-ability, which allows the machine to know where in the coordinate system the build is taking place and maintain the overall accuracy of the completed part.
The ability to "grow" a metal component in layers with complex internal features and fine mill those internal features, as the layers are added, to give a perfect surface finish are what makes the LUMEX Series such a distinctive, unique and remarkable production platform and machine tool.
Custom Mold & Design (CMD) is an industry leader for designing and building high-precision, fast cycling molds, machine components, and fixtures. We invest in the latest and most cutting-edge equipment to preserve our high-quality and precision.
Located in Forest Lake, MN, CMD most recently acquired the Matsuura LUMEX Avance-25 Metal Laser Sintering Hybrid Milling Machine and now maintains the ability to leverage AM’s on-demand manufacturing competencies and expanding flexibility with the Matsuura LUMEX technology.
With CMD’s sustained performance of manufacturing molds since its foundation in 1965, their designers are extremely proficient with a dedicated interest in their customers’ needs. With the addition of the Matsuura LUMEX Avance-25, molds with complex geometries can now be fabricated in one piece with high accuracy, shortening lead time and reducing manufacturing costs by as much as a third over conven-tional machining technology.
Laser powder bed fusion (PBF) metal additive manufacturing (AM) produces solid and porous geometries in the same process, saving time and material. Advantageous for orthopedic implants, PBF creates complex structures that simulate the mesh-like porous properties of bone while delivering strength and durability. Porous textures can be built into implants of any shape or size – from acetabular cups to lumbar cages – allowing serial production of a portfolio of implants.
Maximizing machine use
Optimizing porosity size and distribution in orthopedic implant designs can generate high volumes of data that often slow down build processors. Betatype’s Engine build processor provides supercomputing power to overcome this, rapidly creating scan data and enabling serial production. Its build generation scalability can optimize build data.
Betatype recently worked with a company to create serial production build data that produced files in excess of 50GB. The Engine was able to scale up to 640 virtual CPUs with 4.88TB of RAM, generating build data in a few hours. Special Engine algorithms for converting complex geometry enabled implant designers to work in file formats up to 96% lighter than traditional STL files, such as Betatype’s ARCH format or nTopology’s LTCX data. For example, a spinal cage model was only 8MB as an LTCX file compared to 235MB as an STL file. These conversions simplify and shorten the process, letting designers innovate without dealing with mesh data.
Improved use of overall build volume in AM lowers cost per part, unlocking serial production of orthopedic implants. Betatype can stack implant parts by designing lattice node matched supports, using the entire build envelope to produce multiple, complex implants in a single build. Engineered supports can be removed using standard media blasting.
Reducing build times
Three major components of PBF build time need to be addressed to speed up the process:
- Dosing – Applying powder to the machine bed
- Fusion – Applying energy to the powder bed
- Motion – Movement between fusion
To optimize laser firing times and reduce delay times, with or without multiple lasers, Betatype technologies can reduce overall build times by up to 40%.
One orthopedic manufacturer using this technology portfolio decreased implant build to 15.4 hours from 25.8 hours. Betatype technologies optimized the laser scan paths, reducing firing and movement time required for complex lattice structures. Galvo-driven path optimization reduces delay times to 3 hours from 13 hours by optimizing the delays on an exposure-to-exposure level, also reducing laser travel distances to 100km from 170km.
Using Betatype’s technologies with PBF maximizes machine use, optimizes data file sizes, and reduces build times, enabling faster, more cost-effective serial production of orthopedic implants.
A part of Mazak’s family of Hybrid Multi-Tasking machining centers, the VTC-300C FSW combines milling and friction-stir welding (FSW) capabilities. With a full traveling-column design, automatic tool changer, and powerful 40-taper spindle in addition to the FSW package, the machine helps shops reduce lead times and achieve greater part accuracy with less required capital equipment – all while enabling methods for processing parts with stronger welds than ever before.
Designed and manufactured in Kentucky in partnership with the Provo, Utah-based Mazak MegaStir, the VTC-300C FSW joins Mazak’s series of Hybrid Multi-Tasking machines, which adds capabilities such as advanced additive, joining, and gear-cutting technologies to the multi-tasking capabilities found in Mazak machines.
The machine’s FSW package uses a process that involves frictional heat and forging pressure to create full-penetration, defect-free welded joints stronger than conventional methods.
A solid-sate joining process with a non-consumable tool, the Mazak FSW head joins two metal plates without melting the workpiece. Commonly considered a forging process, FSW is well-suited for joining alloys with low melting points, including aluminum, copper, and brass, among others.
The new welding technology complements the existing VTC-300C machine platform, which delivers a standard 15,000rpm, 30hp, 40-taper spindle that can handle a wide variety of metal-cutting applications. Additionally, the machine and way-cover design has been enhanced to provide 1,574ipm rapid feed rates on all axes. Its fixed 78.74" x 30" table provides process flexibility for a wide range of applications, while an optional center partition can divide the machine’s work envelope into two separate work areas to allow the machine to be in cycle in one area while loading, unloading, or setting up a part in the other. The machine’s axis travels measure 65.35" in X, 30" in Y, and 25.6" in Z.
The machine also features Mazak’s MAZATROL SmoothG CNC, which makes it easy to generate programs for highly complex parts production. Several innovative programming, performance, and monitoring functions bring optimum speed and accuracy to complex part production. Advanced hardware, including a tilting CNC panel and multi-touch control screen, allows for complete ease of use. https://www.mazakusa.com
With “eight figures with a long way to go” of his personal wealth invested into Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing (KAM), NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski is making a huge bet on additive manufacturing (AM). The Statesville, North Carolina, shop has two massive General Electric (GE) metal additive manufacturing (AM) machines, four Mazak CNC machining centers, a GF Machining Solutions wire EDM machine, Pinnacle X-Ray Solutions computer tomography (CT) scanning equipment, a coordinate measuring machine (CMM), a Nikon 3D scanner, and advanced software systems link the machines together.
“We’re all in with this. You have to jump into this sort of thing with confidence,” Keselowski says. “It’s part of the racing culture. You don’t find too many drivers who aren’t risk takers. If you’re not willing to take blind leaps, you’re not going to win.”
Racing will still be Keselowksi’s day job, but KAM is his future, he says. It’s where he hopes to greatly impact racing technology, commercial vehicle manufacturing, military contract jobs, aerospace work, and manufacturing for any industry that can benefit from AM technologies and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)/Industry 4.0 data-driven process technologies.
The immediate opportunities, situated in NASCAR country an hour north of Charlotte, will be custom parts for race teams. Drivers and teams often talk about the race before the race – the design and build time when crew chiefs swap out vehicle components in hopes of gaining a technical edge in the next week’s race. It’s a pressure-driven environment in which crews have to produce flawless parts (that will be subjected to harsh racing environments) with minimal turnaround times. Keselowski says it’s an environment where AM technologies are already showing their value.
In 2000, he remembers seeing his first 3D-printed racecar part, an air intake for a stock car. He immediately wanted to put it on a car and race with it before being told that the plastic piece would melt on the track. Keselowski says he’s been waiting for the technology to mature and move into metals ever since.
With GE’s Concept Laser metal AM machines, the equipment is ready, he says, and his engineering team is ready to make parts for various industries.
“Race teams are really engineering teams that occasionally get to race. I’ve seen the successes that we’ve had and watched other teams, and I’ve seen that the teams with the best engineers always seem to have the fastest cars,” Keselowski says. “That’s the spirit we’re going to take to other industries – that fast turnaround time, that part you can depend on the first time it’s made.”
Key to the shop’s strategy is attracting other industries to hybrid manufacturing’s potential – 3D printing some parts, machining others, starting some on printers and finishing them on machines – picking the right technology for the part.
“If this only serves motor sports, it will be a tremendous failure as a business,” Keselowski says. “This business has the potential to be bigger than anything I’ve done in racing.”
Spending more on equipment at launch than most 30-person shops will spend in a decade is critical to showing potential customers that KAM is a serious operation, not a vanity project for a professional athlete, says General Manager Steve Fetch.
“Metal AM is getting to that point where you can go from prototyping to volume production, but a lot of customers need to be convinced that it’s capable and that we’re capable of producing with it,” Fetch says. “Coming from racing, we know speed, and that’s our initial pitch. If you can eliminate tooling for new parts, speed becomes a big advantage in time to market.”
A lot of companies that want to outsource parts to shops such as KAM are excited about the potential for hybrid manufacturing technologies, Fetch says, so advocates for new ways of doing things and new production partners already exist. To take advantage of that, KAM had to support those people who enable and endorse new technologies.
So, proving quality is critical, he says. KAM engineers must show a customer that the shop can produce a usable metal part, built to stringent quality specifications. Customers can’t afford to take Fetch’s word that everything will work.
That realization led to one of the shop’s largest investments – the Pinnacle X-Ray solutions CT scanner. The machine stacks 2D X-ray images on top of each other to generate 3D images of parts – showing the internal cavities that often define 3D-printed components.
Pinnacle Managing Director and CEO Rod Meyer says aerospace companies have led metal AM use, and they’re his biggest customer base for CT systems.
“With AM, most of the problems are internal, so they’re not going to show up on a CMM or a 3D scan. You need to see inside the workpiece,” Meyer says. “We can detect porosity, unintended fusions, areas where the (metal) powders didn’t melt properly, and dimensional flaws.”
Fetch says with CT reports showing interior dimensions, coupled with CMM and 3D-scan data for part exteriors, KAM demonstrates part quality without time consuming, expensive destructive testing. The company also uses Mazak’s Smartbox IIoT systems to record every action machines take, generating process reports that KAM engineers can also share with customers.
“Everybody knows that additive is in the manufacturing world, but most people don’t really understand the challenges,” Fetch says. “They understand the concept, but they don’t know the five or six things you have to do after printing to get a finished part. Expectations are either too high or too low, so we have to do a lot of explaining.”
KAM is pursuing ISO standards for manufacturing quality and aerospace productivity. Keselowski says the company is also undergoing International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) certification to work on military contracts.
With North Carolina’s racing industry, heavy truck manufacturing, aerospace sectors, and military contractors close by, he expects the shop to be busy as soon as the ink dries on its various certificates.
Keselowski says he plans to keep racing, so he won’t run day-to-day operations at his shop. He’ll visit frequently and provide strategic vision, but Fetch and his team will be in charge.
“I’ll still be racing for a long time. A lot of drivers compete into their late 40s, so I have at least another 10 years in me,” Keselowski says. “I need a job to pay for all of this, especially for the next few years.”
Keselowksi Advanced Manufacturing