FIT Additive Manufacturing Group has ordered a supersonic 3D deposition (SP3D) machine from Australian manufacturer Spee3D. By firing metal powders at three times the speed of sound, SP3D machines can manufacture copper and other metal components in record time.

SP3D machines use powder like other additive manufacturing machines however the powder is not spread over a surface but fired by a nozzle precisely onto a defined spot on a material carrier. The powder particles hit that position with three times the speed of sound and corresponding kinetic energy, which binds them together. The bonding process is thus not a result of melting or heat, enabling the creation of entirely new components and structures.

According to SPEE3D, its machines have build rates which are higher than those of powder bed machines and should therefore allow additive manufacturing of components. In addition, SP3D can be used with copper – something which had been very difficult to achieve economically with other technologies.

Late in 2018, the first machine will be installed initiating an intensive test phase. “We will focus on the functional performance of the components produced by this machine”, said Philip Emmerling, research engineer at FIT. “Our first tests were promising, but much work has to be done.”

The SP3D investment is another step in FIT’s change from a leading German additive manufacturer to becoming a global additive research and development partner for industrial clients. “Fifteen years ago, we moved from service bureau to additive manufacturing with Electron Beam Melting technology. Five years ago, we started to support our clients with additive design challenges – mostly with powder bed technologies. Now, new additive technologies and new players are emerging all the time. These need to be implemented on an industrial scale – independent from machine manufacturers – and we need to constantly scout the AM universe for new developments”, said Carl Fruth, founder and CEO of FIT AG.

“With this broad and deep approach we can support our clients in their extremely complex additive design and manufacturing problems. We are rapidly moving to additive technology partnerships rather than additive manufacturing”, emphasized Albert Klein, CFO and CSO of FIT AG.

Article from Additive Manufacturing Today.