AMT and Mitsubishi Electric to provide automated options to PostPro 3D printing platform


Software capabilities are often presented as the most important tools that enable automation in an additive manufacturing workflow. A collaboration between AMT and Mitsubishi Electric will explore another route to bring more automation to the post-processing stage. As a reminder, until now, this stage of the manufacturing process is the one that comprises a series of intensive manual and costly series of jobs.

If you are a regular reader on 3D ADEPT Media, you certainly know that Additive Manufacturing Technologies Ltd short for AMT is on its way to unlock the “full potential of industrial additive manufacturing”. With the recent investment the company secured, the company ambitions to become the “first-choice application centric provider of end-to-end industrialized automated post-processing systems”.

Joseph Crabtree, CEO at AMT comments: “To realise our concept, we needed an automation partner that could provide the whole range of machine control systems, as well as the actual robotics. This is fundamental to truly integrate our machine into the production line of the future as well as to benefit from a lean, single vendor distribution model.”

Active across several manufacturing industries, Mitsubishi Electric is acknowledged for the development and commercialization of electrical and electronic products and systems.

Together, both companies will create a UL-approved automated post-processing set-up based on articulated arm robots and machine control systems. To do so, they will combine AMT’s PostPro 3D platform with Mitsubishi’s MELSEC iQ-F Series compact PLC, HMOs, SCADA and MELFA arm robots. With such combination, operators could automate the finishing of 3D printed parts, and could achieve up to hundreds of parts every hour.

By slashing processing times and costs, PostPro 3D greatly benefits industrial manufacturers and end users. “Up to now, finishing a 3D-printed part has been an entirely manual process, which can account for 30-70% of the total manufacturing costs. By using our automated solution, PostPro 3D, manufacturers can cut the end price substantially, making 3D printing cost effective for higher-volume production,” explained Crabtree.

Insights into AMT’s PostPro 3D system with Mitsubishi on board

As a reminder, the manufacturer’s solution is compatible with laser and high-speed sintering, Multi Jet Fusion and Fused Deposition Modelling technologies. This means, it can process 3D printed parts produced with thermoplastic polymers like polyamides, polyurethanes and elastomers.

With Mitsubishi on board, parts could be loaded in and out of the post-processing machine using an Mitsubishi Electric six-axis robotic arm. After selecting the desired surface roughness and additional surface qualities, processing data will be stored and analysed in real-time for continuous process and machine monitoring. Following a cycle time of 90 to 120 minutes, parts will be ready to use upon release – with surfaces finished to 1μm precision, and the post-processing machine could automatically re-order consumables.

Gary Hatfield, Key Account Manager for the Yorkshire Region at Mitsubishi Electric, said: “It was very exciting to work with AMT on such an innovative product. The process of realising AMT’s vision of a fully automated process that can be integrated into the digital workflow of a production line will interest a lot of people currently.

Lastly, certified automation products were also key to AMT, as Joseph Crabtree explained: “In order to expand and deliver our solution in the U.S., Europe and China we needed to build a system whose components are all accredited according to national governing regulations, such as UL and CE marking standards.”

 “Mitsubishi Electric was the clear choice because it offers a one stop shop for state-of-the-art automation solutions. In this way, we can be sure that the different components are compatible and can share data. Overall, the company can offer us products that adhere to UL, CE as well as Industry 4.0 requirements”, the company concludes.

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