Metal additive manufacturing and metrology systems manufacturer Renishaw, headquartered in Gloucestershire, UK, upgraded its 3D printing division to a larger facility in 2015, and has continued expanding ever since. The company opened a Healthcare Centre for Excellence with a 3D printing production facility in 2016, and the company’s new North American headquarters, complete with an Additive Manufacturing Solutions Centre, opened its doors near Chicago just a few months ago. Recently, Renishaw announced that it has signed an agreement with integrated metal manufacturing and 3D printing solutions provider FalconTech Co., Ltd. as a solutions centre partner and additive manufacturing technology distributor in China.
Founded in 2012, FalconTech, focused on the rapid manufacturing of quality, high-performance components for multiple engineering applications, is located in Wuxi, in the Jiangsu province. As part of the agreement, Renishaw will purchase and promote FalconTech’s aerospace-grade titanium metal powders to its China-based additive manufacturing customers. The company will also work with FalconTech to, as stated by Renishaw, “develop and optimise these powders for use on current and future ranges of AM machines.”
As for FalconTech’s part of the bargain, it will be setting up an Additive Manufacturing Solutions Centre near its home base in Wuxi, which will be equipped with Renishaw’s additive manufacturing systems and supported by its manufacturing solutions know-how.
“This is an exciting new chapter for Renishaw in terms of our commitment to delivering the best solutions in additive manufacturing to key industries,” said Paul Gallagher, Managing Director/Vice President of Renishaw (Hong Kong) Ltd., after the agreement signing ceremony. “The combination of FalconTech’s knowledge of aerospace and its existing capabilities, combined with Renishaw’s leading edge technology and manufacturing expertise, gives us a dynamic partnership to provide the latest and most effective manufacturing solutions.”
The new AM Solutions Centre will allow FalconTech to quickly deploy Renishaw’s metal additive manufacturing technology throughout China, in an accessible way. In addition to a dedicated Renishaw additive manufacturing system, access to Renishaw’s technicians and engineers, and direct data transfer from a non-networked computer to the printer, the Centre will have a secure, access-controlled incubator cell, optional access to metrology and material analysis and finishing processes, and dedicated powder handling accessories to ensure purity.
“We are excited to be a Renishaw Solutions Centre partner in China,” said Mr. Shen Yu Lan, Managing Director of FalconTech Co., Ltd. “Combining FalconTech’s expertise in aerospace with Renishaw’s technology and manufacturing expertise, the Additive Manufacturing Solutions Centre can create a platform on which we can work in close partnership with customers to help them realise the benefits of AM in their products and manufacturing processes.”
Over the next year and a half, FalconTech will also be buying a total of ten RenAM 500M metal additive manufacturing systems, Renishaw’s first fully designed and engineered additive manufacturing system for industrial production. The laser powder bed fusion additive manufacturing system was specifically designed for the purpose of producing metal components in a factory, and has a build volume of 250 x 250 x 350 mm.
The RenAM 500M was built with a Renishaw-designed and manufactured control platform and optical system, and has a higher level of automation than either the AM250 or AM 400 platforms, with automatic powder and waste handling systems to reduce operator touch times, offer high levels of system safety, and allow for consistent process quality. The system automatically carries out powder sieving and recirculation, so human operators won’t need to manually handle the metal powders.
The system has a large, 19″ touchscreen user interface, with intuitive machine control software, and for easy navigation, the process steps of the build set-up workflow are illustrated by large icons, similar to a Windows operating system. Additionally, the RenAM 500M has a patented, high-capacity dual SafeChange filter system: in order for process emissions to be captured efficiently and quickly, the smart control system actively senses the filter’s condition, and automatically redirects the gas circuit to the clean filter before deteriorating process conditions begin. The user is alerted to change the filter housing and replace the cartridge, and then go on about their business, knowing that builds will be able to run for a long time in a controlled, stable atmosphere.
The first three RenAM 500M machines will be installed at the FalconTech-operated Renishaw AM Solutions Centre by the end of July.