St. Paul, MN (May 24, 2019) – According to Forbes Magazine, manufacturers that understand how digital technologies (including 3-D printing) can provide added benefit throughout the manufacturing value chain will always have a competitive advantage.

This week’s RAPID+TCT additive manufacturing show in Detroit demonstrated the latest and greatest in how 3-D printing is poised to surge into full-scale manufacturing and challenge legacy technologies.

But that’s not news to some folks. 3-D printing in manufacturing is not a fresh concept; manufacturers have long used the technology for rapid prototyping and other smaller-scale operations.

“The ability to “grow” a metal component in layers with complex internal features and fine mill those internal features, as the layers are added, to give a perfect surface finish are what makes the Matsuura LUMEX Series such a distinctive, unique and remarkable production platform and machine tool,” said Tom Houle, Director, LUMEX NA.

Matsuura’s LUMEX metal laser sintering hybrid milling machines combines selective laser sintering (SLS) along with high speed milling (HSM) commonly called Hybrid AM.

Matsuura’s combination of additive and subtractive technologies enables the production of parts and component geometries in a method that has never been possible or imagined. Often referred to as a “one machine, one process” system, the Matsuura LUMEX series permits production of the most complex and challenging parts through total manufacturing by digital engineering using 3-D data. The process produces highly accurate parts from metal powders that are melted and sintered using a laser while surfaces are precisely milled at high speeds. These machines possess both high-speed milling and laser sintering capability.

“The Matsuura LUMEX offers designers and manufacturers a route to designing what they can imagine, and not be limited by the restrictions of their current production methods, strategies and machines,” Houle added,

“It’s not just about the 3-D printer itself and its technology,” said Srinivas. “It’s also about feasible part sizes, the different materials involved and the surface finish.”

According to Houle, Matsuura’s hybrid technology creates a ‘finished’ part with machining like surface finish and accuracy without inducing the additional variation caused by multiple machine setups and part handling. The Matsuura LUMEX Technology is described as ‘a one-machine, one-process’ manufacturing of complex molds and parts by fusing metal laser sintering technology with high speed milling technology.

Houle explains that the use of AM technology and Hybrid AM requires the part/mold designer to re-evaluate all past practices especially as it relates utilizing creative geometries, hollow structures – not ever before possible – and of course variable density material properties to help with weight reduction and in injection mold design for gas venting inserts. 

Advancements in 3-D printing technologies, paired with advancements in supply chain optimization and efficiency (edge computing, for example, and predictive analytics for streamlined, direct-to-consumer purchase order fulfillment) will allow for the implementation of exciting new business models and product services. Generative design will move the complexity of design from physical to digital space. “3-D printing will make mass customization possible,” Srinivas said. “Small and medium scale manufacturing will be fostered. And it will all be augmented with artificial intelligence and other technical advances. It’s going to drive a world of minimal manufacturing constraints, optimized parts and tools, and enormous cost reductions. Lead times for tooling are going to come way down. It will even help overcome regulatory challenges.”

Srinivas believes different businesses will see the disruptions at different times. “Prosthetics are there now,” he said. “Manufacturers can upload patient details and 3-D scans, model the prosthetic on the computer to make sure it’s right, and then 3-D print it.” He points to equally aggressive developments across health care manufacturing for tools, tissues, and even organs.

From there Srinivas sees the technology spreading through high tech and on to traditional manufacturing. “For aerospace and automotive, over the next two to three years we’ll start to see AM as a mainstream application for all areas of manufacturing,” Srinivas said. Additionally, Srinivas sees the construction industry as one that is also ripe for additive innovation. The technology will not only allow for unique structure design, but also part count and part cost can be reduced significantly through 3-D printing.

According to Srinivas, manufacturers that understand how digital technologies (including 3-D printing) can provide added benefit throughout the manufacturing value chain will always have a competitive advantage.

“Matsuura has long been known for its approach to designing machine tools and their accessories to capitalize on the unused hours in a work-week.   We are utilizing this approach as we design and build the next generation of machine tools and the machines that capitalize on new and exciting technologies.  It also drives our continued development of Hybrid Additive Manufacturing equipment,” Houle concluded.

See the Matsuura LUMEX Avance-25 metal laser sintering hybrid milling machine in Booth #623 at AMERIMOLD in the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL, June 12-13, 2019.

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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