Arcam sells first Q20 to Poly-Shape
EuroMold is the perfect platform for launching an exciting new advanced technology, but it is even better when such an unveiling is coupled with the news that the first of these just-revealed products has already been sold.
Swedish company Arcam has just launched its new EBM system the Arcam Q20 - a new EBM system especially designed for the manufacturing and aerospace industries and the very first Q20 has gone to French selective laser melting (SLM) and 3D manufacturing service provider Poly-Shape.
TCT Magazine went to Poly-Shape's stand at EuroMold just as Managing Director Stéphane Abed was cracking open a bottle of Champagne with Arcam's President and CEO Magnus René and Lars Ryberg, Area Sales Manager.
The new EBM system has been developed by Arcam with the support of leading manufacturers in the aerospace sector and builds on the Q-series of Arcam machines.
René said: "This is the third generation of EBM machines from Arcam. The first was launched back in 2003, then the second in 2007 and we launched Q10 in March of this year which is a smaller version of the Q20. With the Q Series, it's an entirely new E-Beam system. It's faster than the previous generation. This system is designed to be more of a manufacturing tool."
Seeing the light, and the beam
The Arcam chief was delighted to be announcing that PolyShape is the first company to invest in the new Q20. "It's fantastic to launch this big product at EuroMold and to have a first customer," he said, adding, "We have a saying, he has not only seen the light, but also the beam."
Abed explained that Poly-Shape is a young company, having launched in 2007, but already its reputation throughout Europe as specialists in SLM, laser technology and metal additive manufacturing and Arcam's expertise has been of great interest to PolyShape for quite some time.
"Today our market is focused on dental and for five years now we've been working on products such as precise implants made of titanium. It's an expensive material and this is one side of what we do. Another side is motorsport and aerospace, so F1 and parts for fighter jets - making parts that have to withstand extreme conditions."
He added that laser additive manufacturing has advanced in such a way the company is no longer centered on the prototyping side of the arena, but in producing finished, manufactured products to an extremely precise, polished standard.
"We want to push customers to process parts in another way," Abed explained. "We're happy to be working with Arcam with this complementary technology. We respect them and they understand there's a lot of interest out there.
"Our goal is to have all the additive manufacturing technology that make sense ... this EuroMold announcement is good timing."
René commented: "There's growing opportunities through our business. We are constantly looking for areas to manufacture parts so to have this relationship with PolyShape, we will be able to bring more customers to us."
René's open-minded attitude to the future extends to the entire laser additive manufacturing space. "In the additive manufacturing industry, we have to work constantly with our competitors. The industry is growing so there is no use in fighting each other. SLM Solutions could be seen as a competitor but we don't mind because we know that some machines are better than others and we wouldn’t push customers to use our machines if it wasn't the right tool for the job," he said. "Not everybody is doing this, but we are."
Precision quality management
Returning the discussion to the Q20, René explained that the machine is capable of increased productivity, a higher-resolution print and new software, Arcam LayerQam - a camera-based monitoring system to verify part quality by recording every layer as it is built.
This, Abed explained, is crucial for continuity and part verification, which is of particular importance in aerospace and medical applications. Many "closed" systems are therefore of no use to companies who need proof that every part is the right size and shape and so the Q20 could potentially convince many potential customers that this technology is the most efficient and accurate way of creating parts that meet the manufacturer's requirements.
"We are really focused now," he said, adding that more potential customers are likely to take an interest because the number of people "speaking the same language" when it comes to additive manufacturing has improved greatly compared to three years ago.
"Now we are in the manufacturing world. Not the prototyping world," Abed stated.
In the official release launching the Arcam Q20, René explained that the machine sharpens the company's offering to aerospace and represents "a new EBM generation", strengthening an already strong programme of products for aerospace manufacturing, "a market that puts high demands on both the technology and the application expertise". From what TCT Magazine has seen and heard at EuroMold, the Q20 is an exciting offering for this growing side of the additive manufacturing space and it seems likely there will be more news coming from the Arcam-Poly-Shape relationship in the months to come.