An industry consortium of heavyweights like BMW, DyeMansion, EOS, and Grenzebach collaborated to successfully implement an automated AM production line for polymer parts on a large scale. The project partners made real 3D printing serial production with high throughput a reality at BMW’s Additive Manufacturing Campus.
Philipp Kramer, CTO and Co-founder of DyeMansion commented, “The successful POLYLINE project shows that an end-to-end automated factory is possible with 3D printing – and this is just the beginning.”
Dr. Blanka Szost-Ouk, Head of Additive Manufacturing, Predevelopment & Planning at BMW Group, added, “The POLYLINE automated process chain fits into the next generation printers and our standard production requirements, is a system-agnostic solution due to their standardized interfaces, which is crucial for scaling-up Additive Manufacturing.”
POLYLINE Automated AM Production Line: Partners
BMW, the premium automotive manufacturer, has given the project a home in its Additive Manufacturing Campus in Munich and has taken over project co-ordination.
“Current printers are fast, soon, they will be even faster. Therefore, logically the cost per part per unit will be cheaper, but printed jobs would have to be changed more frequently. To be human centric we need to put the people in the middle of our process chain and make it effective, cheap, and simply excellent for happy and motivated people.– Dr. Blanka Szost-Ouk, Head of Additive Manufacturing, Predevelopment & Planning at BMW Group
EOS, the world’s leading technology provider in industrial 3D metal and plastic printing, was in charge of the printing with its EOS P500, which sets a new standard in industrial Additive Manufacturing. It is completely automated and integrated. The level of automation and integration then varies depending on the use case and can be tailored to each situation. The machine ensures the highest level of reliability, homogeneity, repeatability, and reproducibility.
“The EOS P 500 sets a new standard in terms of industrial Additive Manufacturing. It can be fully automated and fully integrated. The level of automation and integration then differs from the use case and can be adjusted specific to each situation. The machine ensures highest reliability, the highest level of homogeneity, repeatability, and reproducibility.”– Fabian Krauß, Head of Polymer Systems at EOS
Grenzebach, a specialist in industrial process automation, contributed expertise in the intelligent and safe networking of manufacturing processes to the project. This includes the Exchange P500/4 solution, which is installed directly at the printer and replaces the exchange frame while also cooling the build jobs in the buffer stations. The secure transport container and an automated guided vehicle (AGV) are used to transport the exchange frame to the next stations. And the robotic cell with KLT handling and bin-picking robots for further component processing and sorting.
In addition, the joint development of automated hardware and software interfaces suitable for industrial use in all process stations was a central component of the Grenzebach work package.
Oliver Elbert, Head of Additive Manufacturing at Grenzebach said, “The target of the POLYLINE project was to develop a fully automated selective laser sintering production line. As an automation company, our part was to develop the layout of the line, provide the automation equipment for the transport between the different machines, and create the machine interfaces together for our project partners. The main advantages of automation are to increase the productivity of the equipment, to reduce the downtime of the equipment, and to create a safe work environment for the employees.”
“Automation is essential for serial production to increase the productivity of the equipment and to reduce the cost to become more compatible to the conventional production technology of today.”– Oliver Elbert, Head of Additive Manufacturing at Grenzebach
DyeMansion, the global leader in post-processing solutions for industrial polymer 3D printing, was in charge of delivering the desired look and feel for the final application, which included cleaning, surfacing, and coloration. The processes used by DyeMansion are completely traceable, ensuring consistent quality. The Powershot DUAL Performance meets all physical automation requirements, allowing it to run batch after batch without the need for an operator.
“Automation is one of the key drivers in our strategy, making it possible to integrate our systems in automated production lines like POLYLINE. And this is important to reduce cost per part and ensure the right quality throughout the whole production chain.”– Phillip Kramer, CTO & Co-founder of DyeMansion
Kramer added “Enabling serial manufacturing is one of the main reasons why DyeMansion was founded, and that’s what our systems are built for, to get post-processing to this level. The Powershot DUAL Performance was built for scale, so it can serve ten or even more printers in the production and therefore make an end-to-end factory possible. The main takeaway here is that an end-to-end automated factory is possible with 3D printing. The successful POLYLINE project shows what’s possible and this is just the beginning.”
BMW, DyeMansion, EOS, and Grenzebach collaborated with all other project partners and received funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research to develop a next-generation digitalized production line.
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