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What does the metallic 3D printing robot that was "installed" in Portugal? Help companies

The Institute of Science and Innovation in Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Engineering (INEGI) installed what it claims to be the first 3D high-performance, large-scale metallic 3D printing technology robot in the country. The technology is called Directed Energy Deposition, with areas such as aerospace, defense, security, health, electronics and transportation to be identified as direct beneficiaries.

In a statement, INEGI states that the laboratory cell includes the robot, as well as its monitoring system within the framework of Industry 4.0 logic. In this way, and with the help of sensors, it collects data in real time, related to temperature or deposition of metal dust, which can help to optimize the production processes in the industries.

Lus Oliveira, specialist in additive manufacturing at INEGI, says that some case studies speak of benefits in reducing costs in the order of 30%, in the case of small series, and 50%, in reducing development and production times. "They are very expressive indicators, which demonstrate the potential of this technology for companies," he explains.

In line with the mobilizing project Add.Additive, led by the Portuguese metalworking company ADIRA, together with 24 entities, INEGI will now investigate the metallic additive manufacturing technology that it "welcomed" in its facilities.

As Lus Oliveira explains, the technology being developed "is based on direct energy deposition, but also includes other phases, such as post-processing for finishing and dimensional control". However, and recognizing that surface finishing is one of the main disadvantages of the technology under study, INEGI is trying to develop a hybrid process that combines additive and subtractive manufacturing, in order to allow an advanced surface finish in production.

With a budget of around 9.8 million euros, the consortium responsible for the Add.Additive project intends to investigate, innovate and develop additive manufacturing. The objective is that the process that allows the execution of practically any type of forms develops metallic, ceramic and cementitious, polymeric materials in the Portuguese industry, as well as methodologies and digital systems.

The Add.Additive project financed under the Compete 2020, Portugal 2020 and European Regional Development Fund programs and has an implementation deadline until the end of 2020.