Shortly after closing a new round of investments, Australia-based metal 3D printing hardware manufacturer Aurora Labs reports that it has completed the current phase of testing with its unique 3D printing rapid manufacturing technology (RMT) and the MCP (multilevel concurrent printing) process it is based on. The tests demonstrated the scalable nature of the technology and achieving remarkable print speeds of 113kg/day. This represents a speed of approximately 55 times Market Speed and demonstrates the potential of the technology to transform the spare parts industry worldwide.
How is MCP different from traditional PBF?
In traditional metal PBF 3D printing, a digital part (3D model) is run through software which slices the digital part up into a series of very thin layers. The printer puts down a layer of powder on the print bed and then the first “slice” of the part is fed digitally to the printer and an energy beam (laser, e-beam or other) scans the surface of the powder bed, melting and fusing the powder in the exact shape and dimensions of the slice. This process is repeated and the next layer fuses to the previous one, forming a homogenous part. This process is repeated until all the slices have been printed. Once printed what is left is a complete replication of the digital part that has now been printed out of metal.
By comparison, in Aurora’s unique MCP process, multiple layers of powder are laid down at the same time. During the powder laying process, there is an area behind each individual powder gate where printing can take place (operative surface), meaning that printing can occur on these multiple operative surfaces simultaneously (Multilevel Concurrent Printing). By using a number of gates, MCP printing can be significantly faster than traditional 3D printing processes.
Scalability is the key to speed
Aurora has designed its MCP technology from the very beginning to be scalable. The Company’s Alpha machine, which has carried out the majority of tests to date, has a single sub-unit. The machine has been modified to include the connection of two sub-units working together which has the effect of approximately doubling the speed capacity of the single unit configuration. This scaling process is expected to allow Aurora to scale to virtually any size and capacity with the large format unit expected to be printing up to a 1000kg/day with multiple sub-units contained within it.
Both of these technologies combined (MCP and its ability to scale) demonstrate a pathway to very high- speed large format printing providing major companies with a solution to their parts needs. This differentiates the Company from the traditional 3D printing market as there are significant limitations on speed using existing technology. This latest development in the RMT technology further de-risks the commercialization process as a large portion of the primary technology has been developed and is in engineering phase now.
“This step in the development of the technology is the latest in a long line of impressive developments since the company’s inception in 2014. Printing on multiple levels simultaneously at high speed is what we believe will ultimately allow us to print up to 1000kg in one day,” commented David Budge, Managing Director, at Aurora Labs. “A large portion of the groups that Aurora is currently in discussion with is interested in replaceable parts and the capability of replacing them directly using additive manufacturing or redesigning them using the advantages of 3D printing with superior materials to deliver a superior product at a cost competitive price. The primary factor in delivering an end product cost competitive with traditional manufacturing is the speed of the machine. This is why Aurora is looking outside traditional 3d printing markets to sectors like mining, oil & gas, marine and automotive. The year ahead is looking extremely exciting.”
*What Is Market Speed
Aurora Labs defines Market Speed as the speed at which a comparable machine can print Titanium (CP-Ti). Market research has shown this to be 81.7 g/hr or 1.96 kg per day.