December 2, 2015
It’s really only ever been a matter of time until a corporation with some deep pockets got involved in the additive manufacturing (AM) business. GE had been busily building up internal assets for 3D printing. HP has announced its intent to sell 3D printers, and has a prototype cooking, but doesn’t seem to have anything substantial to show off yet. Canon recently announced it has a 3D printer in development.
Toshiba Machine, a subsidiary of Toshiba, has become the latest AM outsider to announce it will be moving into the 3D printing arena. The big money in AM is in metal 3D printing, and Toshiba Machine has invested in that area. The company already has a working prototype and claims it will be ready for a 2017 launch date.
Entering into a new market can be tricky, even for companies with plenty of financial backing and an established reputation for manufacturing. Why go with a first-generation system when the competition’s systems represent years of experience in AM? To be competitive, Toshiba Machine (and the other companies currently at work on AM systems) will need to come to the party with a product that is already better than what is currently available.
Toshiba Machine is staking its claim in AM through speed. The company has developed a metal printing process it calls laser metal deposition, which uses a laser in tandem with powdered material deposition to build layers. That’s pretty standard as far as metal printing processes go, but Toshiba Machine claims its prototype is over ten times faster than existing AM systems.
According to the company:
The key to its high speed operation is a new nozzle based on Toshiba’s know-how in fluid simulation technology. The nozzle reduces the area to which metal particles are injected, and the laser beam focuses very precisely on the tiny area covered by the powder. The prototype achieves a fabrication speed of 110cc an hour with an 800-watt laser output, and can build larger structures at a lower cost than current methods.
Until its projected launch in 2017, Toshiba Machine will continue to develop the system, intending to further increase its speed, and to integrate it with its 3D CAD software. Below you’ll find a video about Toshiba Machine.
Source: Toshiba Machine