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The AMSYSTEMS Center In 2016, TNO and High Tech Systems Center of the Eindhoven University of Technology founded the AMSYSTEMS Center, a joint innovation center to develop the next generation additive manufacturing production equipment for smart, personalized and multi-functional products. Additive manufacturing (AM) concerns methods whereby products are produced layer by layer, such as 3D-printing. The AMSYSTEMS Center targets high-tech applications, 3D printed electronic devices, 3D printed food and pharma applications with spin-off to other markets that require personalized, customized, on-demand manufacturing. At the heart of the Brainport / Eindhoven region The AMSYSTEMS center is at the heart of the Brainport region and has a strong link with the Dutch Smart Industry action agenda. It also has established the Smart Industry Fieldlab MultiM3D and received an investment grant for a pilot line additive manufacturing (PrintValley2020) to be operated at the Brainport Industries Campus (BIC). Scientific and technological challenges. For many applications the AM technology is still immature. The product quality is typically inferior to that obtained with conventional manufacturing methods, the choice of available materials is limited, the yield is low by process-induced defects, manufacturing costs are high, and productions speeds are typically low. The AMSYSTEMS Center therefore focusses on the development of new multimaterial/multitechnology AM concepts and the integration of these technologies in masscustomization production chains, making it an integral part of a ‘next generation industry’ approach, and aimed at stimulating the competitiveness and growth of the industry. Our focus. The center brings AM concepts from prototyping to industrialization with emphasis on new functionality and cost-effective manufacturing while maintaining system flexibility, stability & reliability. The center activities focus on the development of: 1) new concepts for multi-material / multi-technology digital manufacturing, 2) high-speed and continuous AM technology, 3) in-line metrology technologies, 4) novel integration and ICT architectures. The AMSYSTEMS center targets the development of high-tech equipment for manufacturing of smart and integrated products, smart electronics, customized medical products, printed food, and 3D printed pharmaceutical and high-tech products. Examples are complete implants, prostheses, dental bridgework, smart electronics like Epill, smart connectors and integrated LEDs or spare parts for hightech equipment that can be printed on the spot when needed. Why will it work. The AMSYSTEMS Center brings together two complementary expertise areas in a joint proposition, i.e. the mechatronics and materials expertise of the High Tech Systems Center of the TU/e and the AM concept development and 3D print knowledge of TNO. In addition, a new chair and research group ‘Systems Mechatronics for Advanced Manufacturing’ will be established at the Eindhoven University of Technology TU/e. It is foreseen that within four years 25 PhD students research assistants will be undertaking research and that more than 50 full-time professionals will be involved in the center. Common facilities and infrastructure located at the university campus and joint research under one roof will increase the cooperation between the founding fathers TNO and TU/e HTSC and enable easy access of the industrial partners to the programs and research staff. How it will work The center stimulates the co-creation of eco-systems around new
AM equipment concepts, organized in shared research innovation programs, addressing next generation AM equipment challenges and creating value for companies along the value chain. AMSYSTEMS offers a mix of shared fundamental and applied research as well as contract research, to serve the needs of the industry.
One way of increasing the throughput is by realizing the layer wise process steps (such as powder recoating, heating and selectively laser sintering) in parallel. AMSYSTEMS Center has patented technology that does this by placing the process steps in a carousel, hereby optimizing the effective print time. The current carrousel system has approximately 3 time s faster production speeds than the conventional batch-wise processes. A n additional advantage is the possibility to integrate additional process steps without affecting the system throughput, such as quality control, multi material deposition, and the integration of components. Another advantage of the carrousel approach is the short access times after a single product has been finished, the operator can take the product from the carrousel without waiting for the whole batch to be finished. This is realized by a continuous in-and outflow of empty build-trays and finished products, and thereby minimizing waiting times and obtaining the shortest lead-time from CAD to finished product.
The continuous manufacturing technology was implemented in PrintValley, a manufacturing facility that is used to demonstrate additive manufacturing elements of a next generation ICT driven industry, including part handling, in-line polymer printing, in-line post-processing (surface polishing and texturing) and in-line scanning. The platform shows what the future of additive manufacturing could look like, as it showcases that adding processing steps does not immediately impose extra processing time, owing to a unique carousel layout.
PrintValley shows that AM does not need to be slow and can in fact produce integrated products at an industrially relevant speed. Its modular de sign allows for the combination and integration of a number of different unit operations. The continuous platform not only provides high-speed production but also allows a continuous output of products, allowing integration into a scalable industrial production process (production cycle times can be brought back from days to minutes).
Based on the PrintValley concept, the ADDFactor system was developed, combining a high-speed continuous printing process with a laser-diode array based selective laser sintering process. In this concept, an array of laser diodes is used for in-line sintering of the polymer powder material. The product carriers move underneath the laser-diode array, making the printing process faster and allowing for integration of more process steps, like in-line inspection and postprocessing. Other advantages of this system include the ability to match laser light to the absorption characteristics of the polymer material, making it preferred embodiment for multi-material AM, and the possibility to optimize write strategies to optimize the temperature history of the products. The new system will enable the mass customization of footwear (including medical insole and mid sole applications) and spare part manufacturing (such as for automotive and transportation business cases).
The PrintValley2020 (PV2020) is the envisioned next generation continuous AM setup based on the PrintValley platform. With PV2020, AMSYSTEMS Center and its industrial partners will further expand on the development of industrial AM for mass-customization by making the leap from continuo
us AM (the existing PrintValley system) towards a multi-material continuous AM based production platform with multi-material capabilities, hybrid integration (the integration of components during build of the part), and capabilities that allow high-speed mass-customization.
A research fund was obtained via the Dutch “Toekomstfonds” to build the PV2020 pilot line. The strategic partnership with the OEM company BigRep will create an outlet for PV2020 configurations. To realize the PV2020 p ilot line, BigRep and other companies will be involved to create business opportunities once the pilot line will be commercialized as well.
In 2011 AMSYSTEMS Centers first SLA machine was brought to the market b y German partner RapidShape GmbH. This printer, which was 6 to 10 times faster than other machines available at that time, was aimed at (a.o.) t he dental industry. Together with dental partners NextDent/Vertex Dental and RapidShape, AMSYSTEMS Center has worked on the further development o f this technology, both from an equipment as well as from a materials point of view, resulting in the market introduction of a series of FDA app roved dental products. In 2016 AMSYSTEMS Center partner Vertex-Dental B V, introduced the first biocompatible 3D printing stereolithography materials in dental, with a Class IIa certification according to the Medical Device Directive 93/42/EC. The Class IIa certification of these material s, makes it possible, for the first time in dental history, to use 3Dprinting for multiple long term applications. Splints, denture bases, crown s, and bridges for long-term use in the oral cavity can be manufactured u sing 3D printing technology.
Lepus NextGen comprises the next generation of Stereolithography (SLA) 3 D printers as it makes the step towards fast, large area, high resolution printing applications. The concept is based on an array of laser diode s, integrated in a rotating polygon, to create a fast and accurate scanning source. The technology is up to 10-100 times faster than current SLA setups employing traditional laser-based or DLP light sources. It can achieve a resolution of up to 3000 Megapixel (20 micron). Furthermore, it can be used to process high viscosity materials (including ceramics filled resins) and can be used for multi-material objects. As it is a scalab le concept, build surfaces of up to 600 x 2000 mm and even larger can be achieved, opening up the way for many applications.
The LEPUS NextGen is also the key technology platform for the Fieldlab M ultiM3D. The Fieldlab MultiM3D is a co-creation platform in which parties along the value chain network to develop and validate next generation multi-technology and multi-material solutions. At this moment, three multicolor dental implants, 3D printed electronics and 3D ceramics are developed with the LEPUS next gen technology platform, within three consortia of partners with differing expertise. The Fieldlab initiative and its relevance to the smart industry roadmap will be further explored and ambitions exist to integrate various additional partners (both national and international) into the ecosystem, with AMSYSTEMS functioning as the anchoring point.