Do you still mill or do you already print?

AZO at Formnext in Frankfurt

Additive manufacturing, better known as 3D printing, was the theme of the Formnext trade fair, which took place in Frankfurt from November 19 to 22.

Formnext is the world's leading trade fair for Additive Manufacturing, which is being promoted as the next generation of intelligent industrial production. Additive manufacturing offers completely new perspectives in terms of increasing efficiency, saving resources and optimizing marketability of products and new possibilities in design and production.

Especially 3D metal printing is popular in many areas, such as aerospace, the automotive and medical industry. Compared to traditional metalworking manufacturing techniques such as machining, milling or vacuum casting, this process allows complex metal parts to be produced at a relatively low cost.

AZO exhibited for the first time at Formnext. For the additive manufacturing sector, AZO develops plants and systems for feeding 3D printers, both for plastic and metal printing.

A system for supplying a metal 3D printer with metal powder was presented. The system consists of a powder supply module and a printer module. The metal powder is fed into the closed module where it is fed into the process from outside via gloves where then it is screened and fed to the printer module by suction conveying. The printer module then supplies one or even two printers by means of a distribution screw. Metal powders are usually explosive, respirable and toxic.  Under normal atmosphere they tend to oxidize. Therefore, both modules are operated under inert gas (e.g. nitrogen). In the printer, the component to be manufactured is produced by melting the powder layer by layer with a laser until the complete component is formed from the powder bed. Powder that is not melted is conveyed from the printer back to the supply module where it is processed or discharged. At the same time, new powder can be put into the process again and again. All this is done under continuous monitoring of the inert gas atmosphere.

The system shown was the subject of numerous discussions at the AZO booth. Besides metal 3D printing, plastic 3D printing was another major field of interest for the visitors.

Almost 35,000 specialists and managers were carried away by an impressive Formnext 2019. 852 exhibitors made Frankfurt Trade Fair the stage for the ever more numerous fields of application of additive manufacturing. AZO in Osterburken received a correspondingly positive response to the fair. Many new contacts were made in the up-and-coming 3D printing industry.