Mitsubishi Goes All In on 3D Printing with Metal and Plastics
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on October 25, 2018 |

Two divisions of Mitsubishi, Mitsubishi Electric and Mitsubishi Chemical, have announced entries into the world of 3D printing. The former has announced the development of a new metal additive manufacturing (AM) process, while the other will be introducing a series of materials.

Mitsubishi Electric’s “dot forming” metal 3D printing process. (Image courtesy of Mitsubishi Electric.)
Mitsubishi Electric’s “dot forming” metal 3D printing process. (Image courtesy of Mitsubishi Electric.)

Described as a “dot forming technology,” the metal AM platform combines “laser, computer numerical control (CNC) and computer aided manufacturing (CAM),” according to a press release. To print metal parts, a directed energy deposition (DED) process uses a laser wire to fuse metal wire as it is deposited. The company claims that this type of laser wire overcomes the risk of voids traditionally associated with DED, thus allowing the rapid fabrication of dense metal objects.

The company’s technology is targeted at producing near-net parts for aerospace and automotive applications, which will be desirable given the fact that it can make hollow components with overhanging features. Laser-welding wire materials found in the market can be used with the machine, reducing the price in comparison to metal powders, according to Mitsubishi Electric.

The system relies on a pulsed laser and minimized heat input, similar to that used in some CNC technologies. This also allows enough time for the metal to cool once the wire has been melted. Additionally, the metal wire and necessary shield gas supply, as well as the deposition position can be controlled simultaneously, resulting in 60 percent greater geometric accuracy than traditional DED, according to the company.

Mitsubishi Electric will be showcasing the technology at the Japan International Machine Tool Fair this year before launching the platform in 2021.

At the upcoming formnext event, Mitsubishi Chemical Group will be presenting a wide variety of materials from different companies within the group. Its presence at the show will be divided into several areas of focus: fused deposition modeling (FDM), water-soluble materials, sustainable materials, and partnerships.

The Colossus 3D printer that Mitsubishi Chemical will display at formnext. (Image courtesy of Mitsubishi Chemical.)
The Colossus 3D printer that Mitsubishi Chemical will display at formnext. (Image courtesy of Mitsubishi Chemical.)

FDM is particularly relevant, given Mitsubishi Chemical’s recent acquisition of Dutch Filaments. Under the sustainable material umbrella are two Mitsubishi-developed materials, Durabio and BioPBS. The conglomerate will also be displaying a 3D printer called Colossus, a 3D printer the size of a shipping container that will be fabricating chairs live at the event.


Recommended For You