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Portuguese scientists help create new 3D printing way

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Researchers from Portugal and Norway have developed a robotic 3D printing system with six motion axes that enable the “printing of large metal parts at various angles and planes“, was announced today.

A team of scientists from the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Coimbra (FCTUC) and the Norwegian Technological Institute for Industry (SINTEF) developed “for the first time” a robotic system of “3D printing [three dimensions] axes of movement, enabling the printing of large metal parts at various angles and planes, “says the FCTUC, in a note.

The new system represents a new generation of industry-wide 3D printing using “large metal materials” (aeronautics and oil industries, for example), with significant impacts on reducing production time and costs “, stresses FCTUC.

The new technology has already had the interest of the Indian multinational Tata Steel, one of the largest suppliers of metal in the world, he adds.

In addition to making it possible to double the performance of traditional 3D printers (using three axes), “the added value of this new robotic system” is, according to the FCTUC, its flexibility, allowing “to couple a set of tools never before achieved, “especially a real-time simulation software.

The ability to simulate the process in real time” – the simulation is done at the same time as the impression of the part happens – is “of extreme importance because it leads to great facilities throughout the production“, underlines Norberto Pires, a coordinator from the project.

Simultaneous simulation, which encompasses several variables and parameters (hardness, temperature, phase changes in the material, etc.), can immediately correct any anomalies that may arise. desired parameters, “said Norberto Pires, quoted by FCTUC.

To achieve this robotic configuration, researchers had to overcome several challenges, the first of which was “to see if current robotic technology was available to absorb a system of this complexity.

After that phase, several studies were followed in order to find formulas that “allowed to generate without problems the printing trajectories for a robot of six axes or more”, explains Norberto Pires.

But once the problem of trajectories was solved, two more dilemmas arose: “On the one hand, finding a way to adapt existing printing technology to such a system – automation and integration of technology – and, on the other hand, to incorporate tools of simulation that allow the real-time correction of the parameters of the parts printing “, reports the researcher and professor of the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the FCTUC.

The entry in the market of this solution depends on the investment that is high, recognizes the scientist, estimating a value of two million euros. Therefore, it formed and leads a consortium that brings together research centres of the New University of Lisbon and several universities in Germany, Austria, Spain and Norway, as well as companies from different fields of activity (under the consortium already submitted a project to the European Union).

The results of the research, funded by the EU support program PT2020 (Portugal 2020) and by pockets of ignition, were published in the scientific journal Emerald.

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