St. Paul, MN (September 2, 2019) — According to Kip Hanson in the September 2019 issue of Shop Metalworking Technology, the day will come–and possibly sooner than anyone thinks–when 3D printing will be as widely used as other metalworking processes.
There will no longer be additive manufacturing and subtractive manufacturing–just manufacturing. Powders and resins will take their place alongside billets and sheets, lasers and deposition heads will be as common as end mills and drills. And just as multitasking machines have combined once-disparate processes such as milling, turning, hobbing and grinding operations onto the same platform, so too will these and other machine tools can 3D print certain part features.
Moldmaking was in part responsible for the development of Matsuura Machinery’s LUMEX-brand hybrid additive machine, a combination three-axis machining center and metal powder bed printer designed specifically to produce conformally cooled molds and mold inserts.
As with other powder bed machines, the LUMEX builds parts one layer at a time from the bottom up, but the addition of a high-speed milling spindle means those layers can be machined as needed for accuracy and surface finish.
More efficient molds and moldmaking may have been the machine designer’s original intent, but Tom Houle, director, LUMEX North America for Matsuura USA, is quick to point out that the LUMEX is garnering interest from a number of additional industries—including medical, aerospace, and tooling manufacturers for its ability to do what traditional powder bed machines can’t: produce extremely accurate parts and part features.
Still, there’s no arguing that the LUMEX offers significant benefits to its target audience.
“The return on investment is really threefold,” says Houle. “First off, additive manufacturing allows moldmakers to create conformal cooling channels and porous venting, both
of which improve mold efficiency. Secondly, the ability to build a production tool in days versus weeks or months is obviously a huge gamechanger for anyone in this industry. And finally, those toolmakers who are also injection molders are reaping the additional benefits of cycle time savings, reduced capital expenditure and molds that are less expensive to run day after day.”
Matsuura’s LUMEX hybrid additive machine can 3D-print and machine a wide range of precision metal components, including plastic injection molds that are said to be more efficient than those produced via conventional means.
The Matsuura LUMEX Series combines selective laser sintering (SLS) along with high speed milling (HSM) commonly called Hybrid AM. The series, manufactured for more than ten years, is now offered in North America with sales and technical support provided by Matsuura Machinery USA, Inc.
Matsuura’s unique combination of technology platforms enables the production of parts and component geometries in a method that has never been possible nor imagined. These unique machines manufacture highly complex integrated parts and molds in shapes and configurations that were once impossible using traditional milling methods.
Matsuura Machinery USA, Inc., located in St. Paul, MN is the U.S. subsidiary of Matsuura Machinery Corporation in Japan. Since 1935, Matsuura has been the forerunner in designing innovative technology and manufacturing solutions to a variety of industries around the globe. Matsuura Machinery USA, Inc. delivers unmatched excellence in 5-axis, vertical, horizontal, linear motor, multi-tasking CNC machine tools and machines with a powder bed metal AM platform with machining capability. Matsuura Machinery USA, Inc. provides the service, applications and technical field support that have always been the Matsuura standard for business.
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