Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC)—a non-profit applied scientific research and development services organization—has invested 1.2 million USD in metal additive manufacturing (AM) equipment for its facility in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, USA. This follows a previous investment of 800,000 USD, bringing the total amount spent on AM equipment to 2 million USD.
The new equipment includes a Gen III Max cold spray system from VRC Metal Systems and an AMBIT multi-task system from Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies. The company is now able to offer customers three metal AM processes, namely cold spray, hybrid and laser powder bed fusion. These processes can also be combined to deliver customized solutions.
Cold spray AM is a solid-state process that involves depositing metal powders at temperatures below the material melting point using a supersonic nozzle and pressurized, heat inert gas. It can be used to produce parts, repair parts and enhance base material properties (e.g., improve resistance to corrosion and wear).
The Gen III Max cold spray system is compact, measuring 3 x 5 foot (0.91 x 1.52 meters), and has wheels for easy maneuverability. It is therefore also suitable for producing and repairing parts in the field. Furthermore, the system can be operated manually or robotically, a feature that lends itself to many repair and obsolescence applications.
CTC anticipates using the Gen III Max to repair expensive and difficult to source components on structures such as military aircraft, vehicles and submarines, thus preventing their being scrapped. This is achieved by discharging metal powder at supersonic velocity onto the surface of the part that is worn or damaged. On impact, the powder is consolidated into a dense solid material that must then be machine finished to restore the part to its original dimensions.
Hybrid AM involves both additive and subtractive (CNC) technologies. The AMBIT multi-task system comprises a series of heads and docking stations that allows the majority of CNC machines and robotic platforms to employ a number of non-traditional processing techniques and switch between them.
CTC has installed the AMBIT in its HAAS VF-11 five-axis milling machine. The working envelope is approximately 120 x 40 x 30 inches (304.8 x 101.6 x 76.2 centimeters) and can therefore accommodate large part repairs and feature additions.
The company intends to use the hybridized machine for the repair of damaged or worn parts and part surfaces. Its engineers will be able to clad materials to parts and build new geometry, then switch to the milling function in order to complete the task.
Laser powder bed fusion AM has been available at CTC for more than two years. The company previously purchased an SLM 280HL selective laser melting (SLM) machine from SLM Solutions, allowing for the creation of parts made from various materials, including aluminum, titanium, stainless steel and cobalt chrome.
Edward J. Sheehan, Jr., president and chief executive officer of CTC, commented: ‘We are applying our 30-year history in metals and metal processing to be an all-encompassing service provider for additive manufacturing solutions. Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is growing exponentially in the US, and we have the in-house expertise to continue to deliver outstanding metal-based solutions in this emerging arena.’