BMW Group gets more 3D-printed robot grippers, Velo3D announces first quarter results and Markforged doubles the Mark Two’s print speed

Engineering.com's roundup of recent 3D printing news.

BMW Group expands use of custom, 3D-printed robot grippers

(Image: BMW)

(Image: BMW)

BMW Group’s Lightweight Construction and Technology Centre in Landshut has been using a particularly large gripper element, which was made using the 3D printing process. Weighing around 120 kilograms, the gripper for a robot can be manufactured in just 22 hours and is then used on a press in the production of all CFRP roofs for BMW M GmbH models. The press is first loaded with the CFRP raw material. The gripper is simply rotated 180 degrees to remove the finished roofs.

BMW Group claims that, compared to conventional grippers, the version manufactured using 3D printing was roughly 20 percent lighter, which should extend the operating life of the robots and also reduced wear and tear on the system, as well as cutting maintenance intervals.

While the vacuum grippers and the clamps for the needle gripper to lift the CFRP raw material are made using selective laser sintering (SLS), the large roof shell and bearing structure are manufactured using large scale printing (LSP).

According to BMW, LSP can be used to produce large components economically and sustainably. The process uses injection molding granules and recycled plastics, while CFRP residual material can also be used and recycled. Compared to the use of primary raw materials, BMW claims that its CO2 emissions when manufacturing the gripper are roughly 60 percent lower.

Velo3D announces first quarter results

Velo3D recently announced the financial results for its first quarter ended March 31, 2024. Key highlights related to the company’s strategic initiatives include:

  • Velo3D claims to have resolved 100% of high priority tickets in Q124
  • The company reported booking $17 million in new orders in Q124 – $27 million since mid-December with approximately 50% of orders from existing customers
  • According to Velo3D, increased sequential Sapphire XC installation efficiency has resulted in a greater than 40% reduction to install days and labor
  • The company reports that it reduced year over year operating expenses by 30% and expects sequential quarterly improvement in operating cash flow for FY 2024

“We were pleased with our first quarter performance as we continued to successfully execute on our strategic priorities,” said Brad Kreger, CEO of Velo3D in a press release. “Specifically, we are now just starting to see the benefit of our new go to market initiatives as we booked $17 million in new orders during the quarter. Additionally, we entered the second quarter with $22 million in backlog.

“We believe this strength reflects the continued customer confidence in our technology as well as our success in expanding our footprint in our core markets, including the defense sector, as we added 3 new defense customers in the first quarter.”

Markforged doubles the Mark Two’s print speed

(Image: Markforged)

(Image: Markforged)

Mark Two and Onyx Pro Turbo Print is a new 250 µm layer height print mode for Gen 2 Mark Two and Onyx Pro printers that, according to Markforged, results in print speed increases of up to 2x compared to 200 µm print settings. Print speeds up to two times faster means parts can be delivered quicker, printer throughput can be increased and design iterations can be completed sooner.

Markforged claims that Turbo Print is especially valuable for anyone with high printer utilization, such as print farm operators those who need to produce MRO parts or respond quickly to line changeovers on the factory floor.

In addition, Markforged claims that parts printed at 250 µm maintain the same surface finish quality as parts printed at 200 µm.

The new print modes require no hardware changes, though compatible Mark Two and Onyx Pro online printers require a firmware update. Markforged has stated that offline Eiger users with active licenses will receive the feature package in a future quarterly software update.

Due to hardware limitations, Turbo Print is not compatible with Gen 1 desktops or Gen 2 Onyx Ones.