Renishaw has announced plans to open a global network of solutions centres for metal 3D printing. The announcement was made at the 3D printing show, TCT, in Birmingham, UK, taking place from 30 September to 1 October 2015.
Renishaw hopes the solution centres will lower the entry barrier to using additive manufacturing (AM) for making parts. The centres will provide cost-effective access to machinery, facilities and AM expertise.
The network of centres will open during the final quarter of 2015 and the first half of 2016, and will include facilities in the UK, Europe, USA, Canada, India and China.
According to the company, the solutions centres will provide a confidential development environment in which firms can explore the benefits that additive manufacturing can bring to their products, and quickly build their knowledge and confidence in AM as a production technology.
‘Additive manufacturing is still mostly used in rapid prototyping applications, where the ability to build metal components direct from CAD, with no special tooling, is especially valuable,’ said Clive Martell, head of global additive manufacturing at Renishaw. ‘However additive manufacturing has so much more potential than this – it enables us to design and make innovative products with spectacular gains in performance and efficiency. Renishaw's vision is to make additive manufacturing a mainstream manufacturing technology, used in series production of high performance parts for aerospace, medical, automotive, oil and gas, mould and die, and consumer products.’
Each solutions centre will feature ‘incubator cells’, private development facilities containing an AM machine, design workstation and all the ancillary equipment needed to design, build and refine a new product design. As the product and process design matures, Renishaw will also provide pre-production capacity where the productivity and capability of the AM process can be established. Renishaw will provide support in the form of operators and applications engineers, as well as access to a range of machining, finishing, treatment and metrology processes.
‘Whilst additive manufacturing can create complex geometries in a single process step, some level of finishing is generally required to produce functional products,’ said Marc Saunders, director of global solutions centres. ‘Renishaw's knowledge of metrology, machining and finishing processes can help customers to develop an integrated manufacturing solution for their innovative new product.’