Dutch workflow automation company AM-Flow will introduce the world’s first AM In-Line Quality Control solution at the upcoming Formnext exhibition in Frankfurt in November, at booth E59 in Hall 12.1. During the trade show, the supplier of industrial machine vision systems will unveil the newest module in its workflow automation solution stack. The AM-QUALITY production line is said to enable quality control of each and every part produced in 3D printing factories at an unprecedented high processing speed.
After winning the Formnext start Up Challenge Award in 2020, AM-Flow showcased a real-life working environment in the event’s 2021 edition, showing post-processing steps such as picking and placing, identification, sorting, and routing of 3D printed parts. For this year’s edition, the team of startup’s AM experts will delve into the benefits and importance of implementing these solutions on the factory floor. This is significant to the industry, which is witnessing a move towards AM adoption as a serious manufacturing technology. For that reason, AM-Flow considers that the technology must become really competitive, and that means cost per print and lead times need to be reduced. An automated end-to-end AM production line can significantly lower costs and lead times.
At a cycle time of 10 seconds per part, with a resolution of 50 Microns and 100% quality control, the AM-QUALITY identifies issues such as breakages, warping, and surface defects, enabling early detection and addressing sub-quality prints immediately during production, states AM-Flow in a recent statement. Capable of ensuring the highest quality standards and enabling certification for customers in the medical, automotive, and aviation industries, AM-QUALITY is expected to slash the cost per part of quality control from tens of dollars to only cents.
AM-Flow Co-founder and CEO Stefan Rink suggests, “Our perspective has always been to provide industrial solutions to the AM industry, setting industry standards, to help it scale and deliver on AM’s core benefits. Together with our part identification, sorting, bagging, transport, and bin-picking modules, the AM-QUALITY, as the latest member of the AM-Flow family of solutions, will help scale the AM industry and increasingly be the manufacturing technology of choice for more and more applications.”
Supported by AM-Flow’s proprietary middleware software platform (the trademarked AM-LOGIC), AM-QUALITY feeds all generated data back to the manufacturing execution system (MES) of clients, enabling immediate reprints when necessary and optimizing setting parameters of the 3D printers and post-production equipment, creating what is being described as “a true Industry 4.0,” and an overall “game changer for the additive manufacturing industry regarding the quality assessment of 3D-printed parts.”
Founded in 2018 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, AM-Flow is tackling cost per part in AM by zeroing in on one of the most costly steps in the 3D printing process chain: post-production. The company offers a full-stack solution, combining cutting-edge technologies like computer vision, machine learning, and intelligent robotics to achieve an end-to-end automated post-production workflow.
Its vision includes an end-to-end digital production technology that will become truly competitive with existing manufacturing processes, particularly injection molding. That is why the company is fully working on automating the 3D-printing process end-to-end. At its offices in the Brainport Industries Campus (BIC) in Eindhoven, where it develops mechatronics, vision, and robotics, AM-Flow has been working on solving significant hurdles to achieve a fully automated 3D printing post-processing workflow, such as 3D part recognition using geometry.
“The 3D printing industry can learn a lot from the other industries,” says Rink. “For example, automated picking and placing, tracking and tracing, transportation and packaging. The big difference is in the individualized geometries and the fact that you don’t have a limited, standard product library with common product ID labels. That’s what we started solving: we can now identify parts in a split second based on the geometry alone. AM-Flow provides the recognition, sorting and routing of the printed parts, where the MES software tells which printers the parts are coming from and where they need to go next: to post-processing or to be packaged and shipped to the end customer.”
Clients of AM-Flow, like BMW, Midwest Prototyping, Shapeways, Materialise, Marketiger, and Oceanz, can regain full control of their workflow by automating steps, describes AM-Flow. Ultimately, the company plans to use its solution to help customers scale their businesses, increase revenues and gain maximum capitalization of their production assets.
AM-Flow will unveil its newest complete solution stack to automate all post-print workflows in AM production facilities at noon on Tuesday, November 15, 2022, at Formnext 2022.