Initial DMLS Parts
How did INITIAL begin?
In 1990, three engineers left the R&D department of Salomon Sports in order to create their own company, INITIAL, based in the French Alps, between Lyons and Geneva.
Yvon Gallet, one of the founders, is still CEO of the company. Bertrand Besnier is now Technical Director and Alain Berthet is in charge of long-term R&D projects.
In the beginning, the company was focused on engineering services. Shortly after that, they extended their offerings, investing in SLA machines then LS facilities, as well as 3D Digitising equipment. The goal was to be able to offer a full service supply to the customer, for all the services linked with product development.
How does the company look now?
Almost 60 people are part of the Initial team in the headquarters in the French Alps. The company also has a distributor established in Spain (Valencia). Currently, turnover ratio is 75% in France and 25% abroad.
INITIAL’s first 3D Digitising system dates back to 1996. An ATOS optical scanner and photogrammetry system from GOM was added in 2007.
The company first started with additive manufacturing in 1997 with its first SLA system. Today the company runs five SLA machines. In 1998 the company invested in LS and FDM technologies and now has 6 EOSint LS systems from EOS. Selective Laser Melting (SLM) technology were then added in with an EOS DMLS system, with capability in this area growing to three EOSint M270 and one EOS M280 machines providing significant capacity.
The first M250 EOSint DMLS machine was bought in 2002 originally for mould cavities, then in 2007 a M270 was necessary to respond to a new market (stainless steel, cobalt chrome, maraging steel) and finally in 2009, INITIAL bought an M270 Xtended which enables the production of Aluminium, Inconel and Titanium, to comply with the requests of its customers.
Just this year the company acquired an Objet Connex system providing the capability to 3D print in multi-materials, as well as the EOS M280 with a 250 mm x 250 x 325 mm build chamber.
What was the driver for getting SLM technology?
The company began with EOS’ DMLS in 2002 for mould cavities, however the technology was not really adequate because parts were still porous. The novelty of a technology alllowing complete homogeneity of the parts was the driver for the company investing in the M270. Focus then increasingly changed towards more on direct parts rather than mould cavities.
Acquisition of an M280 was for a wider range of materials (Aluminium, Titanium, Inconel).
What are the benefits of using SLM technology for Initial?
1) To build parts that were previously impossible to produce
2) Creation of complex internal and external geometries, e.g. the conformal cooling in addition to our offer in tooling injection.
3) Directly manufactured whole assemblies
4) Ramp up of productivity through improvements in cost, quality and lead time
5) Flexibility: INITIAL machines operate 24/7
6) Replacement technology for parts traditionally machined or cast
7) Economical and ecological with 98% of unused material recycled.
Which materials are on offer?
INITIAL has a wide range of materials including:
- Stainless steel
- Maraging steel
- Cobalt Chrome
- Inconel (nickel alloy)
Maraging Steel (MS1) represent almost 90 % of the company’s SLM production, the remaining 10 % is split between Aluminium and more specialist alloys such as Inconel for aeronautical applications or Cobalt Chrome and Titanium for Medical or Luxury applications. The company also offers polishing, machining, welding, heat or surface treatment.
Where are the technologies being employed?
A manufacturer of hot runner for injection had a project of a metal pipe with some complex internal ducts. It was not possible to build them it by CNC or Machining, therefore Initial decided to propose a DMLS internal design (which required geometry and design modifications).
The client started producing the parts on Initial’s EOSint M280 system. They were so satisfied with both the technology and service that they decided to entrust Initial with a complete programme of yearly additive manufacturing production, which includes 100 parts per month.
Parts are built in MS1 (Maraging steel) because the material can be hardened through heat treatment. Initial also offered mirror polishing of the outer surface for some specific applications