Pushing the Frontiers of Additive Manufacturing

by | Oct 26, 2023 | CMS

3D Manufacturing Shop Floor

There was a time when additive manufacturing was cutting-edge, when 3D printing was new terrain, and when hybrid technologies in CNC machines were rare. But today, it’s not enough simply to include additive technologies in your routers. Manufacturers must find ways to push the technology further than it’s gone before—and CMS is doing just that.

In the manufacturing world, additive technology brings several assets to the table. Rather than cutting away large swaths of material from a giant block, additive technology reduces waste—and therefore cost—by 3D printing material with minimal excess. This is a more sustainable way of machining, requiring less material waste by using only what is needed for the end product. It also opens up possibilities for low-production runs that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive.

Benefits like these are already well-proven, as additive technologies are increasingly being implemented throughout various manufacturing sectors. But at CMS, we’re interested in exploring what hasn’t been done before, expanding the frontiers of what’s possible.

A Meeting of the Minds

This year our team joined the company of other innovators at a recent conference hosted by Kilometro Rosso and Tecnologie Meccaniche for a meeting of the minds. CMS offered an analysis of hybrid 3D-printing and composite milling technology, which allows for the use of recycled materials and lowers production costs by 40 percent. Together with the main stakeholders in the industry, we discussed new ways to exploit the huge potential of these additive technologies.

These are huge steps forward for the industry, and we’re proud of the real-world solutions we’ve engineered.

The Newest Frontier in 3D Printing

With the CMS Kreator, we have built a unique hybrid machine that combines large-format additive manufacturing with 5-axis milling. This is the original LFAM (Large Format Additive Manufacturing) solution, made in cooperation with the prestigious German Fraunhofer Institute.

For this machine we’ve adopted Screw Extrusion Additive Manufacturing (SEAM), which is performed by a single screw extruder that moves along the tool’s axes. The printing can be performed vertically, horizontally, or at a 45 degree angle. Beginning with thermoplastic polymer, which is used in granule form and is almost always reinforced, the extruder melts the granules at up to 450 degrees Celsius and deposits it in layers that plasticize and form a single piece.

A process like this could be expected to take some time, but the Kreator delivers high quality—at high speed. The latest evolution of the router has larger build volumes and mass flow, with new slicing software developed exclusively for CMS. This delivers an output of up to 10 kilograms per hour.

Real-World Solutions

For a recent client in aerospace we designed and manufactured a large mold using a combination of additive and subtractive technologies. This part needed to be tested quickly, with little waste, and it required profiling, drilling, and internal pockets. By using additive technology, we were able to bypass an entire step of the usual process, eliminating the need for a model, which would normally be created by gluing together a number of resin boards. This allowed us to test and verify two technologically advanced parts for our client—all while reducing costs.

This is cutting-edge technology, and we’re already seeing direct results in aerospace, marine, and automotive sectors. By combining additive and subtractive solutions, we’ve managed to speed up our production and be more efficient with materials and time. This is useful for rapid prototyping, as well as small-batch productions, lending a competitive advantage to our clients.

The world of additive technology is expansive, and no one can predict what new frontiers will open up in the coming years. But we’re excited to find out—together.

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