Additive manufacturing is a quickly emerging industry with a strong technology focus. As a new industry, there is a continual improvement in productivity and efficiency while maintaining health and safety standards. The raw materials used in Additive Manufacturing, such as metals, and sand/ceramics, offer challenges for which we have created high-quality solutions.
<p>Additive Manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, an all-encompassing term for any manufacturing process in which material is deposited layer by layer to produce three-dimensional objects (workpieces).</p>
<p>Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, has evolved from being used mostly as means for early prototyping and potentially short series to being an accepted manufacturing method in many industries. Few amongst these industries are aerospace, automotive, medical technologies, tooling, turbomachinery and oil and gas.</p>
Piab & IB’s solutions support KSB's growth
KSB, a premier provider of pumps, valves and systems across diverse applications reduced their powder handling setup time from half a day to less than 30 minutes, using IB sieving station MPS30. KSB also uses piFLOW Conveyors to increase productivity and efficiency, reducing the need for manual labor.
Powder management in additive manufacturing
Powder transferring solutions must ensure operator health and safety, be printer-agnostic, and fit various 3D printing production line setups. Bearing these challenges in mind, we bring our expertise in powder management and vacuum technology to the additive manufacturing ecosystem. We have developed a range of vacuum conveyors that are recommended for different applications in the industry.
Made for scale
Productivity is greatly enhanced with automatic powder handling. The material doesn't degrade, and powder mixes don't segregateduringconveying process. The risk of contamination is eliminated due to a closed loop and the conveying equipment can be easily cleaned and sanitized. Piab's conveying equipment is also compliant with industry certificates while having a minimal footprint . piFLOW® conveyors can easily integrate to existing machine parks and production lines.
Automate your processes
Instead of loading lots of small containers, use automation! The flexbag solution of Höganäs contributes to sustainable operations, and Piab's piFLOW®am conveys the metal powder to the binder jetting machine, selective laser melting machine, or any intermediate vessel.
Ergonomic powder handling
It is common practice that operators of additive manufacturing plants are required to lift heavy powder bottles. They often feed the printers with 1-2 liters of 5-10 kg (10-20 lbs) metal powder multiple times a day, even on weekends. Direct interaction with the powder should be avoided; therefore, protective gear is a must. Working places can be dramatically enhanced with automated powder handling solutions where operator interaction with the powder is minimized.
In partnership with a powder producer
Piab has set a partnership with Höganäs, a Swedish company producing a variety of metal powders.
Through this partnership, we offer more sustainable ways to work with metal powders, contributing to industrialization, removing manual handling, and optimizing the amount of powder used in industrial processes.
Metal additive manufacturing and the automation of powder handling
Shortened development cycle
Metal additive manufacturing is a method used both for prototyping and increasingly for serial production of metal parts. It gives the possibility to design and produce previously impossible components or use custom alloys. Component delivery gets faster due to a shortened development cycle. Metal Additive manufacturing reduces supply chain disruptions and contributes to reduced part weight.
Powder handling automation
Given the high growth rates and increasing opportunities in the additive manufacturing industry, powder handling automation is key to establishing the technology as a standard production process. However, many process steps are still manual. This includes the loading of the production equipment with the appropriate metal powder. Furthermore, the use of vacuum conveying technologies can help protect people, products, and the environment.
Ideal vacuum conveyors for additive manufacturing
With our extensive experience in material handling, Piab's vacuum conveyors have long been an efficient solution for the AM process. Piab's premium conveyors are equipped with a stainless steel (ASTM 316L) housing and feature Piab's patented and highly efficient COAX® vacuum technology. They are ATEX dust and gas certified and have built-in automatic filter cleaning. Piab has conducted in-house tests on various metals and alloys, which have shown that our vacuum conveyors can handle powders with a bulk density of 8 kg/liter [500 lbs./ft3] and an impressive throughput.
A variety of additive manufacturing technologies
Working with a variety of Additive Manufacturing technologies, such as Powder Bed Fusion and Binder Jetting, Piab offers the greatest flexibility in integrating automated vacuum conveying solutions into any powder-based manufacturing process.
Piab Group Acquires IB
Piab Group has acquiredIB Verfahrens- und Anlagentechnik GmbH & Co. KG, a company specializing in customer-specific systems for bulk material handling. IB is a respected partner in the additive manufacturing industry, known for their ultrasonic sieving and reclaim machines. IB also develops and builds customer-specific, turnkey systems for filling, emptying, metering, and conveying bulk materials.
Piab vacuum conveyors are capable of transporting a wide range of metal powders. Piab has conducted conveying tests with various powders, including: Aluminum, SS316L, Inconel, Wolfram Carbide, Titanium, and others.
The conveying capacities achieved with Piab solutions greatly depend on the specific segment of the AM production process. Piab has conducted extensive testing with various powders and distances. Our systems have demonstrated the ability to maintain conveying capability over distances of up to 50 meters [164 feet], with a capacity of up to 1.9 t/h at 20 meters [65 feet] for Aluminum and Stainless steel powders.
Piab offers a comprehensive range of equipment for additive manufacturing applications. Our offerings include powder discharge stations, single or multiple conveying lines, and sieve stations. Piab excels in providing customized solutions and turn-key systems to effectively handle the entire powder handling process.
Find out what applies to your raw materials and products! Fill in the form to get free, personal advice from our engineers as well as comparisons with other technologies to find the best solution for your needs.
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