When your first release turns out to be such a big hit, it’s only natural to experience classic second album nerves. It’s a feeling DyeMansion founders Felix Ewald and Philipp Kramer are now familiar with as they prepare for the highly anticipated launch of their next generation additive manufacturing post-processing technology.
“It’s important to get machines to the market that are almost fully developed,” says Kramer, DyeMansion’s CTO, of the extensive testing the new systems have undergone in preparation for today’s reveal. “We have a reputation in the market and need to fulfil that. Pilot testing is essential.”
That reputation has been built on a stream of successful adoption stories from customers like Daimler, ic! Berlin and ProGlove which have used DyeMansion’s technology to add colour and injection mould like finish to their powder-based polymer parts. Even Oprah’s a fan (see the perfectly finished frames worn in that Meghan and Harry interview earlier this month).
Today, the Munich-based company is aiming to build on that momentum by introducing three new products including a new Powershot Performance series and next generation of its classic Powershot C & S post-processing machines.
The centrepiece is the new Powershot DUAL Performance which, in a first for the company, provides both depowdering and surface treatment processes in a single system. It’s aimed at “hardcore industrialisation” according to DyeMansion CEO Ewald, built for the so-called “factory of the future” and high-volume production. Launching alongside it are the Powershot C Performance for cleaning and the Powershot S Performance for surfacing, which DyeMansion describes as the “next level” in blasting technology.
The series is the first to feature the DyeMansion’s integrated wide trough Multi Belt, which allows users to automate the loading and unloading of parts, and is capable of processing full-sized build jobs with an increased load capacity by 150%, from popular powder-based machines such as the EOS P396 or one and a half builds from the HP Jet Fusion 4200/5200. For reference, you could process around 500 spectacle frames in a single job. Despite this bigger capacity, DyeMansion says the DUAL actually takes up 60% less workspace compared to the current Powershot models due to both cleaning processes now now being compacted into single machine, while efficiency has also increased with process times now up to 20% less than that of previous systems. Parts go in, excess powder is removed, surfacing automatically starts and once finished, parts can then rolled out from the belt and onto a tray, ready for any additional post-processing steps.
The primary focus for the Performance series is around the requirements of industrial production environments: quality assurance, traceability, connectivity and automation. With those factors in mind, DyeMansion says these new Performance models will enable traceability throughout the complete production chain, connectivity to MES and ERP systems and full integration into automated production setups.
“Everything that you do in post-processing has a has a high influence on any further processes that you do. For example, dyeing, or if you do smoothing, or if you do spray painting on top of it. So you have to have really consistent quality that can somehow be described in a spec and you need to the machinery that can fulfil this,” Kramer told TCT, alluding to the demands being made by industrial users of additive manufacturing which led to the 18 month development of this new series from the ground up.
The series has been designed for flexibility to allow machines to easily slot into real, dynamic manufacturing spaces and complement current automation setups.
“For us, it doesn’t make sense to deliver a single solution to the customer because every application has different requirements,” Ewald explained. “There are different automation concepts and we want to make sure that our systems perfectly fit into all of those systems. So, it’s really about being automation ready and our goal is just to have machines that customers can easily integrate in their automation concept.”
The Performance series, which includes the DUAL and separate S and C systems, is set to begin shipping to select customers who will inform their continued development. DyeMansion shared that some customers like 3DPRINTUK have already begun using the systems in the last month as part of that all important pilot testing. Meanwhile, the new generation of the classic Powershot C & S is readily available today.
Building on previous collaboration with DyeMansion’s Powerfuse S vapour polishing system, the launch sees the company once again working with Siemens to equip the new line-up with features that aim to “set the stage” for automation in AM. Karsten Heuser, VP Additive Manufacturing Siemens Digital Industries described the Performance series as “the next milestone in the strategic partnership between DyeMansion and Siemens towards industrialised additive manufacturing.”
Echoeing that sentiment, Ewald said: “Siemens is [kind of] providing the digital layer above the factory of the future. […] They have the digital future factory where they can bring in different technologies, they can have different factories according to the specific application. […] They have the industry knowledge and they are pushing on all those industrialisation things and that’s why Siemens is the key partner for us to do that.”
DyeMansion has also introduced a new “PolyShot Cleaning” process and plastic blasting medium as an alternative to industry standard glass beads, which are said to be the optimum shape, size and weight for powder removal without causing damage to parts. The process is expected to enable a wider range of process parameters and precision adjustment and improve depowdering for challenging materials such as TPU. PolyShot Cleaning is compatible with the next-gen Powershot and Performance series and can be used with all common powder-bed technologies.
For a long time, the topic of post-processing within additive manufacturing had earned itself a reputation as the unspoken “dirty secret” behind perfectly finished printed parts. Now, we’re used to talking about the end-to-end process of 3D printing, understanding that it’s about more than just the 3D printer itself, and that conversation has evolved rapidly in the five years since DyeMansion’s arrival.
“It’s still in the beginning, everything is about the printer, very printer focused but I think the overall awareness for post processing [has] definitely developed,” Ewald elaborated. “Not only on saving costs because you otherwise you need to do it manually but also on hey, we can address completely different markets if we if we have high quality parts. […] The overall success when companies are adopting 3D printing is way, way bigger if they consider post-processing in the very beginning, and they also come up to speed way faster when they can produce high quality parts from the very beginning.”
The key differences between the two product lines, Ewald says the classic series is a perfect entry level product for the automation of manual processes, while the Performance series brings additional capabilities which make it “Industry 4.0 ready” and a step closer to industrialisation.
Ewald said: “When normal people come in from the classical manufacturing industry, they have certain expectations when it comes to automation, reproducibility, all that stuff. And so far, when you look at how the factories look; [there’s powder everywhere], a lot of manual work, this has nothing to do with industrialisation. So, that’s our clear strategy and I think the industry is absolutely going into this direction. Does it take longer than everyone thought five years ago? Yes, absolutely. And that’s just because changing manufacturing behaviours is absolutely not easy, and to have certified production lines for specific applications just takes time. […] At least from a start up point of view, sometimes it feels that it takes forever, but it’s going in the right direction and our Powershot Performance series is absolutely our answer to that development.”
During a virtual launch event, DyeMansion also teased that it is building out its “print to product” workflow even further with a low-cost fully automated system for unpacking. It’s still in the early stages and Ewald tempered expectations by telling viewers not to expect a launch around this year’s Formnext where the company has historically launched its latest product iterations. But, as pilot testing gets underway and orders for the DUAL system are scheduled to be accepted from Q4 this year, there’ll be plenty to keep the team busy until then.
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