Conventional material removal machining in mould making is wasteful of material. Moulds machined from solid stock cut away >90% of the original material, thus >€1.1B is wasted annually in Europe. Selective Laser Melting (SLM), has been demonstrated to be more effective in injection mould making. However, SLM still represents <1% of all products in Europe because of limitations to its application. Chief is the high cost of the metal powder and the time of realisation of the parts. Powder costs €135/Kg with a single mould requiring >250 kg. The powder, once used, can only be re-used 5 times, thus >50% is thrown away. In a case study, 30Kg of powder was added to an SLM machine and the following results were obtained: -1.6 Kg used for the part - 1.4 Kg complete waste – powder sucked by filters - 27 Kg powder removed – 90% of the initial amount With the current powder, a single part may take >24 hours to complete, increasing the total cost of ownership of the moulds. Another concern is the inefficiencies in the laser systems of the current 3D printing machines. POWDER seeks to revolutionise 3D printing through development & certification of an atomised metal powder. We will use advanced Materials Science and specialised binding materials that will speed binding, reducing development time. To improve the wear resistance of the moulds, we will use a specialised ceramic coating with high hardness and low friction characteristics. To optimise the laser system, we will lower the cross-section parameters of the gain fibre by using a high saturation glass matrix. POWDER eliminates all barriers shielding clients from enjoying the benefits of SLM and provides the following benefits: » Reduce mould building time by >400% » Reduce moulding cycle time by 55% » Reduce TCO of the moulds by 30% » Enhanced re-usability factor >50% POWDER will play a vital role in RB’s growth, generating a cumulative turnover of €16.8M by 2025.
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