Vulcan Forms Committed to the Industrialization of 3D Printing
The cutting-edge technology of additive manufacturing provides infinite possibilities for the transformation of manufacturing processes and the creation of new products. If companies want to enter the additive manufacturing field, the first thing to do is to invest heavily in buying the latest 3D printers, and then find ways to integrate them into the company's operations. However, 3D printers are not suitable for mass production in many industrial applications.
Vulcan Forms, founded by MIT professor John Hart, is providing digital manufacturing services to build industrial products on a large scale. Vulcan Forms will assist customers in material selection and product design, and then create an extensible manufacturing workflow in their production workshops.
VulcanForms is currently producing parts for companies in the medical, defense, semiconductor, and aerospace industries, transforming designs into finished parts within a few days. The founder said that the quality of Vulcan Forms exceeded the industry standards for materials such as titanium, nickel based alloys and high-grade steel alloys. Vulcan Forms is currently completing its first two digital manufacturing facilities in Devons and Newbury Porter, Massachusetts. After completion, Devens factory will also accommodate the additive manufacturing system of dozens of companies in addition to post-processing capacity. The founder said that these systems will make Devons the world's highest production metal additive manufacturing plant. The Newbury Porter plant focuses on precision machining, industrial automation and assembly operations. Vulcan Forms combines these technologies with the digital mainline and is building an American based digital manufacturing infrastructure that will define how products are designed, manufactured and delivered.
3D printing applied in industrial production
Hart said that he entered the field of additive manufacturing by accident. It was all because in 2013, a colleague invited him to teach the Master of Advanced Manufacturing and Design Engineering at MIT. "I don't remember what prompted me to propose to focus the course on additive manufacturing, because I have not yet conducted research in this field. This course is an experiment that I used to explore new interests and stimulate students' enthusiasm and curiosity."
Feldmann was a student in this class when he was in his first semester at MIT. The project-based course requires students to measure the accuracy of 3D printing components and improve their performance. Feldmann said: "MIT will teach students something that is highly technical but very applicable. At MIT, learning additive manufacturing is not only about computing things, but also provides the opportunity to operate printers by hand. There are molten deposition printers here. I really like this course setting, which prepares for leading research in the industry and start-ups."
After obtaining his degree, Feldmann became a research expert, studying nanomaterials and battery electrodes. But Feldmann and Hart continue to brainstorm to make additive manufacturing more industrial relevant. Finally, they decided to build a new LPBF metal printer to enable a large number of lasers to operate at the same time, so as to improve the output while maintaining the quality of finished parts. "Our goal is to redesign the LPBF process in a way that can achieve higher and more consistent quality, which we believe is the main obstacle to the industrialization of additive manufacturing." Hart said.
Considering this mission, Feldmann and Hart decided to take a big step to establish Vulcan Forms. Feldmann spent nearly two years developing the prototype of the first printer. Today, the company's printers use hundreds of welding tracks in each layer, and the laser moves synchronously through these tracks. Together, these lasers provide up to 100 kilowatts of power. The production foundry of Vulcan Forms also includes CNC processing and post-processing equipment. Hart said: "From the very beginning, we have regarded 3D printing as the cornerstone of digital manufacturing, where software and hardware work together to code and execute production instructions. The software built allows each part to receive the same temperature locally in each voxel of each layer. It can increase the production rate of products while maintaining the consistency of production."
Help 3D printing realize its potential
In 2021, a supercomputer manufacturer used Vulcan Forms designs for the cooling components in its processors. Titanium components containing dozens of micro channels are very complex and can only be manufactured by additive manufacturing. As the New York Times reported, Vulcan Forms successfully produced it two days later. Vulcan Forms also manufactures medical implants, industrial tools and tire molds and components for aviation and defense contractors. Feldmann believes that the innovation brought by additive manufacturing has promoted technological progress in many industries. The company also sees manufacturing transformation driven by digital production technology as an opportunity for the United States to improve its economic prosperity and innovation ecosystem.
Hart said: "Vulcan Forms believes that one of the greatest opportunities for the United States is to rebuild its industrial ecosystem around the digital production system. Digital priority production technologies, including additive manufacturing and automated precision processing, can achieve a more innovative, resource efficient and more flexible supply chain. Innovation in the manufacturing industry is the pillar of the American economy."
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