Additive manufacturing is the industrial production name for 3D printing; the term describes any process in which material is deposited, joined or solidified layer by layer to form a 3D part or component.
There are many different processes and materials used within additive manufacturing. The most common process is Fused Deposition modelling (FDM) where filament is melted and deposited layer by layer onto a print bed. But we also have experience in many different processes such as; Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) where powder material is bonded together using lasers, Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) where powder material is bonded together using inkjet arrays and Stereolithography (SLA) where resin material is cured using UV light. All of these processes are used to manufacture polymer parts and components but we also have experience with metal additive manufacturing processes such as Selective Laser Melting (SLM) where powder metal is bonded using lasers.
We are also heavily invested in emerging 3D printing technologies such as Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) and Directed Energy Deposition (DED) which allow us to 3D print larger metal parts & components. As part of our R&D workstreams, we are researching new 3D printing materials such as rubber, carbon/glass fibre reinforced filaments and new fire compliant materials to railway standard BS EN 45545.
Whilst additive manufacturing is one of our core strengths, we still utilise other, readily available production methods in our Digital Manufacturing service offering such as CNC machining, Laser profiling, Casting and Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) moulding. Not every part is suitable for 3D printing. This might be due to insufficient complexity, cost or speed. It might also be that a requirement demands a specific material is used or a particular standard is met and utilising a more established production method is more appropriate.
Our team have vast experience in manufacturing processes such as CNC machining or laser profiling and casting. We also utilise 3D printing to enhance and improve some of these production methods, such as additive casting whereby we 3D print moulds and patterns from which parts can be cast.
3D Scanning is an important tool in our arsenal. The primary benefit to us is speed in the re-engineering process. We can quickly take 3D scans of obsolescent parts and convert them into CAD files where we can add new features and improve the design.
We also utilise 3D scanning for a variety of other uses. We can scan space envelopes to aid in design and fitment; helping us to determine clearance requirements or fixing points etc. We can also 3D scan entire vehicles and use the information gathered for our large-scale technical integration projects.
3D scanning days are an important service offering. Our customers can book a date for us to visit their site/depot to 3D scan a list of problem/obsolete parts. We can then provide a quote for the parts we feel are most suitable for digital manufacturing.
Nick Miljkovic – Systems Engineer – Angel Trains
Steve Venables – Engineering Manager – Transport for London
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Simple ordering processes are vital to our customers’ ability to respond quickly. A lot of the parts and solutions we have created are available for production runs. Our catalogue allows you to order these and serves as a demonstration of our capabilities.