Industrial 3D-Print the smart way

12.12.2017 - Grenzebach – Automation partner for EOS, a global leader for additive manufacturing technology.

Revolution through digitalization well underway: 3D-print of components, products and tools made of synthetic material meanwhile has become common practice in many industrial sectors. 3D-printing of metals is the next big step. How to optimize material flow and utilization of production cells for industrial 3D-? With respect to this question, EOS, a pioneer and innovator for integrated solutions in additive manufacturing, counts on Grenzebach’s know-how and expertise. “We recognize EOS as a global leader for industrial 3D-printing of metals and plastics. Partnering with EOS enables us to continuously develop this innovative technology", Stefan Grenzebach, CFO of the Grenzebach Group.

Processes optimally linked

Currently, EOS and Grenzebach are launching the "Shared Modules Project". Situation: Industrial 3D printing processes can take up to several days, depending on the product or component. Initially, only the 3D printer itself is in use; no tasks are linked to the loading or unpacking station, referred to as upstream and downstream process steps. Objective: Being able to quote stand-alone units rather than complete equipment units. If the material is the same, several 3D printers can share the loading and unpacking station. The main mission of the order EOS placed with Grenzebach, is an optimum process interconnection integrating intralogistics. “With one of a kind know-how about smart factories, Grenzebach supports us to increase added value and flexibility for additive manufacturing", says Dr. Tim Rüttermann, Director of Product Management at EOS GmbH Electro Optical Systems. 

Intralogistics for e-manufacturing 

Grenzebach’s contribution to promote additive manufacturing: a specifically designed gas- or dust-tight container (IGC) that distributes raw material and components to the individual stations. The container carries interchangeable frames (EXF) as per defined process conditions. One of the conditions could be that the atmosphere around the component may not be involved in the process. The IGC is able to keep the atmosphere autarchic for a set period of time. Docking stations, specifically engineered for the EOS 3D-printer (process station), the loading and unpacking station allow for an in- and outfeed of the interchangeable frames from the stations. At the docking station, the IGC is coupled to an inert gas and power supply unit. Grenzebach offers a special service station for IGC maintenance. Besides development and production of the separate elements, Grenzebach also offers Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) L1200S for the transportation of containers.

Intelligent Intralogistics 

The compact and agile L1200S vehicles can turn on the spot and navigate by means of sensors, perfectly suited for the automated transportation of material containers from and to automated machinery in the 3D-printing process. The Fleet Manager, an application developed by Grenzebach engineers, directs the vehicle which eliminates the need for contact loops or similar systems. All of this comes with innovative energy management: the batteries of the AGVs are charged contactless with inductive charging mats. „Shared Modules with EOS – that’s Smart Factory directly integrated into our Intralogistics“, says Stefan Grenzebach.

The project is part of the innovation project "NextGenAM" (Next Generation Additive Manufacturing), attempting to introduce 3D-printing of aluminum parts into serial production. The project was first started in early summer in Varel (Lower Saxony, Germany).