Australian metal additive manufacturing company Titomic today announces the launch of the world’s ‘largest’ metal 3D metal printer at its state of the art facility in Melbourne, Australia. Based on traditional cold spray technologies, the new 3D printing process can print on a 9 m long x 3 m wide x 1.5 m high scale.
Cold spray technology is not uncommon in the manufacturing world, as it is frequently used as a way to coat or repair parts. But for Melbourne-based Titomic, the principles behind cold spray lend themselves well to an even more exciting process: additive manufacturing.
Jointly developed by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, and Force Industries, the new Titomic Kinetic Fusion process takes cold spray technology, but uses it to 3D print parts from titanium alloys.
The process involves spraying titanium powder in a chamber, where gas is heated up that accelerates the titanium particles through a nozzle and out of a spray gun. That spray gun is controlled by a robotic arm to spray in precise patterns, and when particles “hit” each other on the surface, they become bonded at a mechanical level through a process of plastic deformation.
And Titomic Kinetic Fusion isn’t just different in the way it fabricates metal parts—it’s also printing those parts on an uncommonly large scale. The bus-sized 3D printer is capable of printing large titanium components – from golf clubs to complex aircraft wing parts. It can also print metal bike frames in around 25 minutes.
In addition to its size, the Australian company’s 3D printing process also operates with phenomenal speed. According to Titomic’s CEO and CTO, Jeff Lang, Titomic’s 3D printers can deposit around 45 kilograms of material per hour, making them 10-100 times faster than the fastest 3D printers on the market today. Furthermore, these quickly printed objects are said to be approximately 34 per cent stronger than stock titanium.
Titomic’s process targets zero-waste, using only the required amount of metal powder needed to minimise environment impact and costs. “We can make parts cheaper,” Lang said. “That opens up an opportunity for the auto industry to use titanium more cheaply, and it also opens up the opportunity for us to export high-quality components globally.”
Titomic this week announced it has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Fincantieri, one of the world’s largest shipbuilding companies to explore the use of the Titomic Kinetic Fusion technology in the marine sector.