Angus 3D Solutions Limited, a Scottish Additive Manufacturing start-up based in Brechin, Angus, UK, has reported early success in its new Additive Manufacturing service, using what is reported to be the UK’s first commercially available Metal X system. The system was purchased with a grant of £175,000 from Zero Waste Scotland’s Circular Economy Investment Fund – part of the Resource Efficient Circular Economy Accelerator Programme, supported by the Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund.
The Metal X system produces metal parts using a process Markforged refers to as Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing (ADAM), in which metal powder bound in plastic is deposited a layer at a time to form the part geometry, then debound and sintered. It is believed that the only other Metal X systems in the UK are owned by Formula One teams and university laboratories, which do not allow them to be used externally.
Using the Metal X system, Angus 3D stated that it can offer new metal AM capabilities to the UK market, at up to ten times cheaper than would be possible using some alternative metal AM technologies. The binding of the metal powder in a plastic matrix also eliminates some of the safety and environmental concerns associated with AM technologies which use loose metal powder.
So far, Angus 3D stated that it has used the Metal X to additively manufacture lightweight custom parts for a bicycle business and components for a new product design for an oil & gas company, as well as to remanufacture obsolete components for a local textile manufacturer to help maintain production and reduce breakdowns. It’s also producing test pieces for a Formula 1 team looking for help carrying out performance analysis on parts.
The majority of the parts produced so far have been for companies in Scotland, but Angus 3D reported that it has seen an increase in enquiries from companies in England due to the limited commercial availability of the binder-based technology in the UK. Angus 3D believes that its ability to provide AM services using the Metal X will advance the development of a circular economy in the Scottish region by allowing parts which would previously have been scrapped due to obsolescence to be put back into service through reverse-engineering– wherein their design is replicated using a 3D scanner and produced using the Metal X.
For example, an oil & gas company which had been scrapping electrical connections due to minor parts no longer being available has now begun to reverse-engineer and manufacture unavailable parts with Angus 3D, allowing the connectors to be put back in service and saving nearly £20,000, as well as reducing material waste. Speaking on this development, Andy Simpson, Managing Director of Angus 3D, stated, “I’m naturally delighted to get this world-leading piece of kit into production, as it will help our clients and Scotland’s manufacturing industry develop the circular economy.
“Scotland has an impressive manufacturing history,” he added. “To maintain and further develop this we must embrace the latest Additive Manufacturing technology and make it accessible, as well as encourage the next generation to look at manufacturing as a career choice. We’re doing this by bringing the latest Additive Manufacturing technology to Scotland and the UK and making it accessible to all industries and individuals. This machine enables us to better support inventors, designers, SMEs and manufacturers in Scotland and beyond.”