CADfix supports EU initiative for mass production of customised 3D printed parts

International TechneGroup Limited (ITI) has concluded an EU additive manufacturing (AM) initiative where developments in its CADfix geometry processing solution delivered breakthroughs in AM geometry handling. The goal of the initiative, known as ‘Hyproline’, was to build a working demonstration of a high performance AM production line for small series metal parts.

The Hyproline platform promises to enhance the competitive position of Europe’s SMEs. Programme researchers focused on three different metals: stainless steel 316L, titanium and copper and serial production of customised parts on the order of 10mm with a goal of 10,000 parts per day. Challenges included increasing the quality of 3D printed metallic parts, an area where CADfix contributed through improved slice generation from CAD, and processing of inline 3D scanning and laser ablation with real-time point cloud capture and 3D comparison, culminating in the generation of customised laser tool-paths for live use by the continuously running production line.

AM is maturing but improvements in accuracy of 3D geometry and CAD files, and improvements in post-processing, are critical for reducing costs and production times, and increasing quality and reliability. Managing the data flow for scanning geometries with high precision and processing that information fast enough to allow the AM process to become adaptive is becoming a key issue in driving the wider adoption of AM.

ITI’s CADfix translation, repair and defeaturing solution was used to prepare CAD geometry for the additive manufacturing step for Hyproline, to convert the point cloud to the 3D surface and to compare the as-produced 3D object with the CAD model while on the production line, and finally to generate tool paths to drive the laser ablation stage of the production line.

“Access to multiple forms of geometry enables CADfix to be applied very effectively to all aspects of the AM geometry process chain. For the Hyproline platform, CADfix compared the point cloud scans to the as-designed CAD to extract the excess material to be removed by the laser processing stage” said Mark Gammon, ITI. “This endeavour was truly ground-breaking because of the high-speed of laser polishing of the metal parts, combined with 3D scanning to produce multiple, unique parts in the same run, on the same production line.”