UPV-EHU, Tecnalia and Ibarmia unveil the largest 3D printing machine for Industry
- UPV-EHU, Tecnalia and Ibarmia unveil the largest 3D printing machine for Industry
- The Basque Government’s Minister for Economic Development and Competitiveness, Arantxa Tapia, attended the event held in Donostia-San Sebastián today.
The Basque Country again leads in R&D&I applied to the industrial fabric with the goal of making companies more competitive, both by means of improving productivity and by creating new products. The first machine nationwide that combines manufacturing by means of 3D “printing” and precision machining for industry is the result of the partnership of the UPV-EHU (the University of the Basque Country), Tecnalia research centre and Ibarmia, the Basque machine tool manufacturer.
The machine was unveiled in Donostia-San Sebastián today in the presence of the Basque Government’s Minister for Economic Development and Competitiveness, Arantxa Tapia, who stressed the role that the industrial fabric is playing in the economic recovery. The Minister recalled that industrial employment is driving employment in the Basque Country overall. Proof of which are the IPI (Industrial Production Index) figures released today that show accumulated growth of 3.3% so far this year on the previous year.
This machine, known as ADD+PROCESS, is destined to revolutionise industry by opening up a wide range of opportunities for the world of design and manufacturing that are waiting to be discovered. This technology offers great potential and prospects given that the machine becomes an autonomous production centre where a finished item can be obtained from scratch. This machine is capable of manufacture large prototypes and parts of up to 1.6 metres along, along with repairing high-value parts for sectors such as the automotive, aeronautical, oil & gas and machine tool industries.
This is possible thanks to the machine having laser additive technologies and also allows large-scale parts to be milled and turned. Basically, it works by handling material on a micrometric scale and depositing it accurately until a solid has been built. Thus, the traditional processes starting with a block of material where all the surplus material is intensively machined away until the desired part is produced.
Compared with conventional technologies, additive technology uses the minimum amount of material, which can lead in some case of savings in materials and energy up to 60%. What is more, handling the material on a micro-scale allows the current limits in design imposed by conventional manufacturing to be overcome by using parts with geometries, textures and details that would be impossible to manufacture using existing methods. This technology is also a great advance, for example, when it comes to producing specific parts in sectors where safety is a critical factor, such as in the aeronautical sector.
An example of cooperation
This development is a clear example of the commitment of the 3 organisations involved to the Basque RIS3 smart specialisation priorities and in this case for advanced manufacturing. At the same time, the project highlights the benefits of cooperation between agents of knowledge, technology and the business sphere. It was in fact this collaboration that has enabled this machine to be made available on the market already and that an SME like IBARMIA has managed to get this tool off the ground within the space of just 9 months.
The ADD+PROCESS machine was showcased very successfully during the recent EMO fair in Milan and will be at the service of companies at TECNALIA's facilities in the Technology Park of Donostia-San Sebastian, where it will be possible to verify in situ its possible applications in different industrial sectors. It will also allow R&D&i tasks associated with improving additive manufacturing processes to be continued, the behaviour of the materials to be studied and the development of new applications to be explored.
This development project has the backing of the Basque Government through the Basque Industry 4.0 programme being managed by SPRI (the Basque Business Development Agency) and the Spanish Ministry of the Economy and Competitiveness within its Retos-Colaboración 2015 tool.
Manufacturing using 3D printing, the technology of the future
Manufacturing using 3D printing or additive manufacturing (AM) figures in the list of the ten technologies with the greatest potential for improving our life quality, for transforming the production base and for contributing towards protecting the planet, according to the World Economic Forum, and everything seems to indicate that it is the technology that is set to change manufacturing processes in a whole host of fields and sectors of activity. It is also one of the key technologies supporting the Industry 4.0 strategy which is being worked on globally and for which the Basque Country has been specifying its own itinerary.
As the very name suggests, additive manufacturing is the opposite of "subtractive" manufacturing, which is one of the traditional production methods: using a piece of material (wood, metal, stone, etc.) layers are gradually removed until the desired shape has been achieved. Additive manufacturing, on the other hand, starts with a material in the form of a thread or powder which is built up in a three-dimensional way by depositing this molten material using a digital model. 3D products can be tailored to the maximum for each end user, which does not happen with the manufacturing of large-scale products.