Roboze announced a new system designed to ensure production quality.
The Italian company has manufactured high-temperature 3D printers for several years, and these machines are capable of producing parts in exotic polymers such as PEEK or ULTEM.
Those materials are of notable because the parts are nearly as strong as some metals, and can often be used in lower-temperature application environments. By substituting these advanced polymer parts for metal counterparts, the weight of equipment can be significantly lowered.
That combination is of significant interest to manufacturers, who see many markets where lightweight polymer parts could be sold. However, there is the matter of producing them at scale.
It’s not just a matter of making many parts; you can’t just run a machine 24/7 and hope to achieve “production”. In fact each of the parts produced must meet quality tolerances and do so consistently throughout the production run.
That’s extremely difficult to achieve, particularly in 3D printing where slight differences in the environment from job to job can result in inconsistent quality. That’s unacceptable for larger-scale production.
Roboze explains the problem:
“Due to variables ranging from human error and material quality to temperature fluctuations and sensor quality, the 3D printing industry has been plagued by inconsistencies in parts production. Unfortunately, these hurdles have challenged the perception of 3D printing as an industrial production process on par with other manufacturing processes such as CNC machining and injection molding.”
Roboze seems to have found a way around this challenge. They’ve partnered with Austria-based B&R, an automation and process control technology supplier. The result is something they call “Roboze Automate”, which should overcome these production challenges.
“Roboze Automate streamlines the entire workflow, monitoring results and reporting data during all phases of the process, all due to its advanced sensors and remote control and diagnosis capabilities. With Roboze Automate, predictive maintenance is built-in through automatic remote updates of new features and software parameters.”
Roboze said they will make the new system available on all of their ARGO 500 production units, as it seems to be an add-on to existing equipment. They say Roboze Automate can be used to “efficiently create” up to 3,000 parts in a single batch.
I believe Roboze is on to something here; the use of 3D printing technology by manufacturers has been challenging, largely because the vast majority of 3D printer options simply don’t have the quality features available to meet manufacturing standards. With the addition of Roboze Automate, Roboze could break that barrier and make many more sales into manufacturing operations.