Australian AM firm creates world’s largest metal 3D printer
By DE StaffAdditive Manufacturing Aerospace Automotive Medical Metal Fabrication
Cold spray tech 3D prints up to 9 by 2 by 1.5-meter metal parts in minutes.
Autstralian additive manufacturing company, Titomic, unveiled what it bills as the world’s largest metal additive manufacturing machine. Dubbed Titomic Kinetic Fusion, the 40m by 20m machine can produce metal objects up to 9m long, 3m wide and 1.5m high, although the system could be programmed to create bigger parts, the company says.
Based on a patented process created by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the Australian government’s scientific research agency, Kinetc Fusion creates such large parts using a AM technique similar to a spray paint can. Metal particles are fed into a pressurized gas chamber, mounted on a 5-axis robot. The gas pressure accelerates the particles to super-sonic speeds through a nozzle and onto a substrate material. The robot then manipulates the nozzle across the substrate to build the part, layer by layer.
Bonding is achieved through a process called adiabatic shear instability. In the first layer, the high-speed metal particles plastically deform on impact and change the substrate’s surface profile, similar to sand blasting. On subsequent layers, the cold spray particles disrupt the oxide films on the part’s surface, improving conditions for metallic bonding and mechanical interlocking.
While Titomic’s initial offering focuses on titanium and titanium alloy, CSIRO says the technology works equally well with other metals, ceramic, polymer or composite materials. Since the process is cold spray and doesn’t require melting, the research agency says particles retain their material chemical properties, which allows thermally sensitive materials to be used. In addition, chemically dissimilar materials to be fused together in the same part.
The system is also remarkably fast. According to CSIRO, Kinetic Fusion’s deposition rates are kilograms to tens of kilograms per hour. Titomic says the process can be used for a wide range of applications from fine medical implants and bicycle frames to larger automotive, naval and aerospace parts.