3d printers

Renishaw unveils new RenAM 500 Flex 3D printers with simplified powder handling systems at Formnext

UK based engineering company Renishaw (RSW) has launched two new versions of its RenAM 500 3D printer with enhanced powder handling capabilities at Next form tradeshow.

Unveiled on the Renishaw stand, the upgraded RenAM 500S and 500Q Flex machines feature simplified powder handling systems, which allow users to change materials more easily without compromising part quality. The systems also make scaling up easier for users, as their settings do not need to be requalified before entering mass production, making them ideal for R&D or office builders. service.

“Once the pre-production stage is complete, the common build environment allows all parameters to be transferred directly to a RenAM 500Q with powder recirculation, without the need to retest gas flow, chamber and optics,” explained AM Project Manager Lily Dixon. at Renishaw. “Manufacturers can also manufacture full-size parts on a small scale before mass production.”

“Manufacturers can quickly change powders in the RenAM 500S Flex and RenAM 500Q Flex in-house, giving them the flexibility they need to meet customer demand.”

A row of Renishaw’s new 500Q Flex 3D printers. Photo via Renishaw.

Renishaw’s metal AM expertise

Based in the UK, Renishaw has a vested interest in a variety of engineering-related technologies including spectroscopy, precision measurement and metal machining. The company has also developed a strong metal 3D printing offering, including its RenAM 500 machines, software, accessories and a range of end-use qualified materials, such as titanium, aluminum, cobalt chrome , steel and nickel alloys.

In an attempt to find new applications for these technologies, Renishaw has established several industry partnerships over the past 18 months, spanning the medical, aerospace and sports equipment sectors. Work alongside Herantis Pharmafor example, the company was able to create and test a unique “neuroinfuse drug delivery device” with the potential to treat conditions like Parkinson’s.

As part of a Institute of Aerospace Technology project, Renishaw has also begun developing a mass-production aerospace 3D printer capable of creating large-scale aircraft components, while a collaboration with British cycling last year the company rolled out the original 500Q to help build Team GB’s Tokyo 2020 track bike.

Commercially, Renishaw’s ‘Fit for the Future’ campaign reduced its 3D printing sales somewhat, but shielded it from the worst of the pandemic, and it recorded a pre-tax profit of £120m. sterling for the 2021 financial year. The company has also achieved this feat despite attempts by its majority shareholders to sell their stake earlier this year, but having failed to find a buyer, the two are now committed to the long term.

John Deer and Sir David McMurty.
John Deer and Sir David McMurty failed to find a satisfactory buyer for their majority stake in Renishaw earlier this year. Image via Renishaw.

Flexibility with the new RenAM

Just like the rest of the RenAM 500 range, the Flex features a 250mm x 250mm x 350mm build volume, an intelligent high volume gas flow system and an integrated intercooled gas path. The machines are therefore able to create uniform conditions for part processing with consistent metallurgy, while their “SafeChange” filter systems ensure that these builds are not interrupted mid-print.

Thanks to these characteristics, Ren AM 500 systems, old and new, produce components free from any chemical, microstructural or mechanical defects with a density of up to 99.9%, as well as “maximized strength and ductility”. .

Where the new single-laser 500S and quad-laser 500Q differ from their predecessors is that they provide users with greater flexibility when changing powder, making it easier for desktop adopters to meet the demands of clients. In practice, the machines are able to achieve this thanks to their new closed loop and open gravity feed powder recirculation systems, which reduce the need for user intervention and efficiently maximize throughput.

“If the manufacturer no longer needs a flexible AM ​​system, the Flex can be converted to a recirculating machine – a feature unique to this system,” explained Dixon. “The system conversion offers manufacturers the most productive additive manufacturing option for mass production.”

As an added benefit, the RenAM 500S and 500Q are able to switch between these modes in situ, allowing a seamless transition between R&D and production during powder recirculation. In doing so, Renishaw claims that “every stage of production from lab to volume can be done on a single machine” and upgraded as needed by users’ applications, ensuring a “seamless transition to volume manufacturing”.

The RenAM 500 machines each have the same intelligent gas flow system.
The RenAM 500 machines each have the same intelligent gas flow system. Photo via Renishaw.

Renishaw’s LPBF competitors

As impressive as Renishaw’s latest powder recirculation-equipped machines are, they are designed to meet an increasingly competitive laser powder bed fusion market. One of these competitors is EOSa company whose 3D printers continue to find aerospace applications, and its P396 machine, is currently used by Etihad Engineering to explore mass production of aircraft parts.

TDM solutions also worked with an aviation specialist Safran Landing Systems recently to 3D print business jet landing gear on an unprecedented scale. By adopting the SLM 800, Safran was able to accelerate the qualification of the part and identify its optimal design in a few days, before creating a component 15% lighter than conventional alternatives.

Like Renishaw, TRUMPF manufactures many machines that are unrelated to 3D printing, but its “Laser Metal Fusion” offering has found many applications in aerospace and automotive. In one such use case, the company worked with MAHLE in July 2020 to 3D print Porsche 911 pistons with a newly integrated design, which provided the car’s engine with 30 additional horsepower.

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Featured image shows a row of Renishaw’s new 500Q Flex 3D printers. Photo via Renishaw.