Intech Additive Solutions, a leading end-to-end solutions provider in metal additive manufacturing (AM) systems, design for AM and AM software, has collaborated with Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) to successfully design and 3D print miniature metal components.
Miniature metal components play a vital role in several critical applications in miniature robotics (bio-robotics), especially in the field of customized electroporation devices such as drug delivery, food pretreatment, cosmetic skin therapy, etc.
Given their size and complexity, manufacturing, production management, and timely delivery of these components through conventional methods is a never-ending challenge. Therefore, metal 3D printing technology is an ideal ally in such scenarios for the production of miniature, complex and semi-sculptural components by virtue of its design and economically feasible solutions.
Intech Additive’s iFusion LF series of printers, which boast the ability to produce small to large metal parts for a variety of industrial applications, is one such solution that makes this possible.
The iFusion LF series of metal printers is designed to achieve high build speeds, optimized cost per part (CPP) management, and cost-effective manufacturing. Automated dust handling, part removal, and dust sieving are some of its comprehensive features specially designed to meet the higher productivity and mass production needs prevalent in the industry. The iFusion LF1 is a large format LPBF metal 3D printer among the iFusion range in the Intech Additive portfolio with one of the largest build volumes in the class – at 450mm x 450mm x 450mm.
Equipped with Intech’s proprietary AMOptoMet and AMBuilder software, it was possible to achieve a “first time right” scenario when printing the miniature components.
AMOptoMet is the first of its kind and one of the world’s only new software for developing alloy parameters. It is an optimization software package set up to calculate and optimize the process parameters of a given alloy for Laser Powder Bed Fusion technology. AMBuilder is build processing software with an intuitive workflow and many smart features. AMBuilder’s optimal part orientation, support generation, and path generation helped prepare for building the miniature component.
BARC provided the initial designs of the miniature components for possible adaptation to the AM process. Intech’s team of DfAM experts proposed and implemented further design modifications for optimal component performance.
“In my opinion, the engineers at Intech have good technical brilliance, a sense of practicality, and leadership. I have noticed that the engineers really follow the ‘basic thinking’ which is very important for any local off-the-shelf solution for a new technology. I am proud to state that within a short span of 6 months, Intech engineers have achieved the pinnacle of authentic product-oriented manufacturing with the required persistence and passion,” said Dr. Debanik Roy, remote control and robotics scientist at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.
The metal 3D printed monolithic miniature component has an overall length of 33 mm with a cylindrical body (OD: 11.6 mm; ID: 10 mm) and a tapered front. The crucial part of the manufacturing process was the printing of a small part, the ‘retaining ring’, 1.5mm thick, and a central hole with a diameter of 0.9mm. The essence of the production of this whole ensemble is the printing of the fixing ring. Ensuring the operability of the printed retaining ring is essential to the actuation of the component.
This component had to be assembled with another part, the ‘end cover’ – 6.5mm high. The completed assembly of the component is now fully functional and can be used for various applications.
The dimensions include a length of 33mm, a cylindrical body OD of 11.6mm, an inner diameter of the cylindrical body of 10mm, and a thickness of the fixing ring of 1.5mm. The parts were printed with SS 316L stainless steel, a layer thickness of 40 microns, and a build time of 3 hours.