3D Printer Hardware

The KRAKEN large format multi-material 3D printing system is now available  

The metal and resin hybrid system was developed as part of the EU's H2020 program

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The KRAKEN system has been presented at the AITTIP Technology Center, located in Zaragoza (Spain) in the frame of project final conference to 120 attendees from Spain, UK, Germany, Italy, Greece and USA. This manufacturing system is the result of a European Project coordinated by AITIIP in which 15 partners have collaborated for the last three years.

More specifically, the KRAKEN is a research result from the H2020 EU program. It is capable of producing parts through additive manufacturing alternating material deposition with layer-by-layer subtractive operations, within an ultra-large maximum working area of 20m x 8m x 6m.

 “The machine is ready for the market, it has been tested in a real manufacturing environment and project demonstrators have been validated by the companies in real conditions,” said José Antonio Dieste, Aitiip researcher and project coordinator. “We can deliver now pieces or install KRAKEN cells according to client demands.”

Project partners presented project results to the audience and expressed their aim to revolutionize the manufacture of large parts, both metallic or hybrid, thanks to the quality and size of final parts, which together with the efficiency of the process and the speed of production, makes it an all-in-one manufacturing system unique in the world.

Besides system calibration, frame alignments and realtime correction, quality inspection of semi-finished or final parts is a very important step and an additional advantage of the embedded metrology system. In this sense Markus Steiner (Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence) enlightened “Due to the integrated Leica Absolute Tracker, parts manufactured by the KRAKEN machine can be digitized in 3D and checked against the CAD design to verify the quality of manufacturing over the full volume of the machine, even fully automated if needed.“

“Guaranteeing accuracy in large workspaces, up to 100 square meters, is a challenge that KRAKEN has solved by integrating real-time laser tracking technologies within the closed-loop control of the robotic system. Thanks to this method, tool precision can be assured down to 0,1mm,” said Francesco Crivelli, CSEM SA, who was responsible for designing the control algorithms and implementing the software.

Industrial companies also showed their interest in additive manufacturing results. Airbus, the aircraft manufacturer, confirmed that hybrid technologies is not the future but the present and the company is now going to demand tools and tooling manufactured with this technology, no matter where it is manufactured or who produces it.

In fact, additive manufacturing opens the possibility to produce large parts of composite materials for applications in sectors such as aeronautics, railways, maritime and large off-shore and wind infrastructure. This technology allows the incorporation of new thermal optimization and energy-saving concepts by combining different materials and geometries in a single product.

Along with the aircraft industry, the automotive industry has demonstrated their interest. Vito Guido (GroupMaterials Labs, CR Fiat) confirmed that this technology will be used for mock-up productions and that it has demonstrated that it can guarantee quality results on time for short productions runs.

Indeed thanks to the KRAKEN machine it is now possible to produce very large prototypes, such as designs for architecture or for the creative and cultural industries, concepts for the transportation sector, as well as large scale models for wind tunnels in aerospace industry applications.

The additive manufacturing system provides metallic material using WAAM at a deposition rate of 1.5l / h. The KRAKEN machine also includes a bi-material resin extrusion system which can reach deposition rates of 120 kg/h. The metallization process can reach deposition rates of 6kg/h. In addition, the subtractive capabilities of the machine allow for cutting, sanding, polishing operations.

All these operations are controlled by a laser tracker, which monitors and controls the position of the head 1000 times per second, correcting its position automatically. The system also incorporates two types of cameras and artificial vision systems to control the deposition flows and for the subsequent verification of the piece, through three-dimensional scanning.

The possibility of building large metal and resin parts by means of high-quality 3D printing has raised the interest of many industry operators. Some demonstrators of the project are already finished. These demonstrators were developed to validate the system’s functionality and they will be presented for the first time at the AITTIP Technology Center facilities in Zaragoza (Spain).

So far, hybrid lining panels for road tunnels of 3 · 1.2m have been manufactured for construction company Acciona, one of the consortium partners. Thanks to the combination of resin and metal, electrical connections were more easily applied. For the automotive sector, a mock-up car of one of the latest Pininfarina car models was produced to validate its design. The built piece has a size of 2.2x1x0.6m and a weight of 250kg.

These are some of the real applications that have already been tested, although the sectors that can benefit from this system are much broader since the KRAKEN system can provide low cost, high quality, fast and efficient alternatives for the die and mould sector and to the tooling of large parts.



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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based 3dpbm. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites 3D Printing Media Network and Replicatore, as well as 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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