MTC to install digital metal additive manufacturing system

The Manufacturing Technology Centre, already a leader in additive manufacturing technology, is to install cutting-edge equipment which will further advance its additive manufacturing and 3D printing capabilities.

The MTC, on Ansty Park near Coventry, is to take delivery of a state-of-the-art metal binder-jetting printer which allows for the fast production of complicated and highly detailed components. The machine, supplied by Swedish high-precision 3D printing specialist company Digital Metal, is designed for small, highly complex parts and will be the only one available in the UK.

The machine installation is being part-funded by the DRAMA programme, being delivered by Innovate UK to encourage aerospace suppliers to make greater use of additive manufacturing.

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is employed across many manufacturing sectors in a variety of materials, producing everything from simple tools to major parts for aero engines. The MTC houses the National Centre for Additive Manufacturing (NCAM) bringing together the most comprehensive combination of equipment and capability in the UK. It is also home to the European Space Agency’s additive manufacturing benchmarking centre, and recently became the only non-US partner in ASTM International’s Centre of Excellence in Additive Manufacture.

The Digital Metal binder-jetting printer will be operational next month. The equipment will be available to MTC member companies and other businesses and organisations interested in testing the technology or taking designs to prototype and pre-production level.

Dr David Brackett, additive manufacturing technology manager at the MTC’s National Centre for Additive Manufacturing, said the machine provided an opportunity for UK industry to understand and make use of the printer’s unique capabilities, particularly on small, highly complex, high-precision parts.

“Binder-jetting is a very fast technology that can create complicated and highly-detailed designs, and there is potential for wider material choices than with other metal additive manufacturing processes that require weld-able materials. We are delighted to offer this technology to UK companies and are inviting those that require small and highly complex metal parts to get in touch with us to see the potential this process offers for their business. We are particularly impressed by the production speed and the quality of parts produced,” he said.

He added, “NCAM is expanding its capacity into a number of technologies which offer further capabilities over more well established additive manufacturing. This is just the start.”

Ralf Carlstrom, general manager at Digital Metal said, “Our printer will be delivered and installed at the MTC’s National Centre for Additive Manufacturing in July. Within a week the first real tests will start. NCAM engineers are currently undergoing training on the equipment.”

Recent research has shown that the UK and Germany are leaders in additive manufacturing technology, with the UK well-placed to improve still further with the rapid expansion of 3D printing capabilities.

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