Remaining unchallenged as the UK’s largest Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) provider, 3T RPD Ltd is now leading the way in the supply of metal parts using Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS). Having recently taken delivery of their second EOS M270 metal sintering machine, they have one of the UK’s largest DMLS capabilities.
Whilst the production of functional prototypes and aesthetic models using the SLS process is still a fundamental part of the company’s remit, 3T’s move into providing metal parts is a timely response to industry demands. Designers and manufacturers are increasingly seeking the fast, accurate production of durable, complex parts and low volume production components, and DMLS is the cost-effective method of choice as it negates the investment in time and money of conventional tooling.
3T have invested heavily in the necessary premises, machinery and equipment to offer an unparalleled service. They have increased their already impressive purpose-built 13,000 sq. ft. premises in Newbury by a further 6,000 sq. ft. to accommodate their DMLS facility, as well as employing specialist personnel. The latest addition to their team is Dr Bruno Le Razer, one of the world’s leading authorities on the production of metal components using DMLS. With nine years experience in the field, the last two of which have been spent using the EOS M270 machine, he has pioneered a number of new production methods previously thought impossible to achieve.
Currently offering four materials; Stainless Steel (EOS SS 17-4), Cobalt Chrome (EOS CC MP1), Bronze (EOS DM20) and Maraging Steel 1.2709 (EOS MS1); they are opening up opportunities for a vast array of different applications within many demanding industry sectors, particularly Aerospace, Automotive and Medical, with further materials becoming available in the near future.
DMLS is a revolutionary technology that produces metal components that are 99.99% dense, directly from a designer’s 3D CAD data. The parts produced are comparable to a good investment cast part and the mechanical properties are comparable to those of a cast or machined component. The process is not restrictive in its application and the components produced can be used in place of almost any conventionally manufactured part, whether they would normally be machined or cast. The more complex or feature rich the component, the more economical the process becomes, and with 98% of the unused powder being recycled, the process is economical and environmentally friendly.
With a machine build envelope of 250x250x215mm (including platform), many medium to small parts and inserts are able to be constructed in hours and days, versus days and weeks using other more conventional processes. Once started, the machine builds unattended, 24 hours a day. Parts and inserts that come out of the machine typically go through a series of ‘post processing’ steps including support removal, shot-peening and polishing, with 3T’s team of specialist finishers producing the highest quality finishes with every last detail taken care of.
More and more companies are dramatically reducing their time to market by adopting the DMLS process for low volume production of their components, ie. ‘Rapid Manufacturing’. 3T are able to supply as many or as few parts at a time as required, saving on WIP inventory. Furthermore, small design variations for every single part can be incorporated and the DMLS process will treat them all in the same way. In effect, DMLS enables ‘Mass Customisation’.
3T are set to become the UK’s leading provider of low volume manufactured parts in both plastic and metal, making Rapid Manufacturing a reality for many of their customers. Their consultative approach to doing business and expertise in SLS and DMLS technologies ensures their customers always get the highest quality parts, service and delivery for all their prototyping and manufacturing requirements.
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