Additive Manufacturing of XXL metal parts


4M Additive Manufacturing

Technology abstract

An Austrian SME developed a system for additive manufacturing of large structures using a blown powder process in combination with a plasma transferred arc source. The technology allows the building of large metallic structures more than 0,5 m in size, currently up to 1,5 m,  in a near net shape process. Manufacturing services are offered, as well as partnering for commercialization, use and further development of the equipment.

Technology Description

The system is based on a blown powder (alternatively a wire feed process) in combination with a plasma transferred arc source. 3D components that are one or several meters in size can be produced in near net shape. Processing is supported by a CAD/CAM controlled 5-axis handling system. The Deposition rate is 1-10kg /h. Focus is on high performance materials in lightweight construction like titanium / titanium alloys, aluminum / aluminum alloys and Invar. Today these components can be found in aerospace, medical, industrial manufacturing, machine building, chemical industry, oil &gas and mold manufacturing for composites.
The layer-wise processing allows the creation of functional multi-layer structures or graded components. Both a wire feed and two powder feeders are available. Particles of hard substances can be added to the setup to form new material systems that exhibit special features and properties in the final product.

Innovations & Advantages

Today manufacturing of large parts is done mainly by machining from blocks or ingots. This causes lots of waste and results in long lead times and high cost. Additive manufacturing by the method proposed can solve these problems.
The “4M-System” is based on a welding system using plasma-transferred-arc technology. Both wire and powder fed modules can be employed, increasing the selection of materials that can be used in the machine.
One main advantage of the system is its flexibility in size, today set-up for 1.8 x 1.5 meters, but it can be easily expanded to several meters. It uses a welding system and not a laser source, thus investment costs, infrastructure costs and maintenance costs are significantly lower than for laser based systems.
Compared to powder bed based systems the productivity with 10kg/h and higher is significantly increased.
The team is working on tuning the material compositions to allow processing in atmospheric condition also for materials like titanium and titanium alloys.
Hybrid processing and Multi-Material concepts can be realized already today.

Further Information

XXL: Size today 1.2 x 1.8m, can be easily expanded to several meters
High production rate, deposition rate
Operation in air possible
Powder and wire fed technology modules
Low investment, training and operation costs
Available for titanium, aluminium, alloys, Inconel, steels and metal-ceramic materials, further materials under development.
Multi-Materials, inserts and gradients can be realized
Easy to use, easy to maintain

Current and Potential Domains of Application

Aeronautics, industrial, molds for composite, energy, chemical, oil & gas