Metallurgy giant Arcelor Mittal and Additive Industries have joined forces to explore the opportunities of 3D metal printing for the steel industry using one of the Dutch company’s MetalFAB1, one of the largest 4-laser 3D metal printing systems available on the market.
3D printing of spare parts is practical as it offers on-demand, on-location production which reduces the need for stocks; it also shortens the production cycle as well as affording flexibility to ArcelorMittal plants. Since the installation of the first metal 3D printer in ArcelorMittal R&D facilities, several 3D printed spare parts have already been used while others are still running in ArcelorMittal facilities.
“Additive Manufacturing is an exponential technology, moving very fast. Our collaboration with Additive Industries is a clear demonstration of our ability to remain at the cutting-edge of this technology: we started by printing small specimens and have now progressed to large size and complex parts,” said Jose López Fresno, Head of the Additive Manufacturing department, ArcelorMittal Global R&D in Avilés (Spain).
The MetalFAB1 is a unique metal printer that has automated the manual steps of conventional powder bed fusion (PBF) printers to ensure the highest productivity, resulting in the lowest cost per printed part, see Figure 1. At the same time, its build volume (420x420x400 mm) enables the production of large steel spare parts for steelmaking or mining operations. The system is designed to be the safest on the market, contributing to ArcelorMittal’s focus on operator safety as well as environmental goals since the system recycles all material and generates hardly any production waste.
Steelmaking operations are usually faced with very challenging and demanding conditions for their spare parts. During the initial stages, the most challenging aspect faced was to achieve these requirements both for quality as well as for the size of the components, limiting the potential uses of spare parts. The last two years of collaboration have enabled those involved to improve both quality and reliability, as well as an up to a fourfold increase in the size of components. Due to this improvement, the number of applications increased from small size part consolidation applications (see Figure 2 A), to applications where large, complex, functional and strong parts are required (see Figure 2 B and C).
““Innovation and market leader ArcelorMittal have helped us to stress-test our MetalFAB1 system for critical spare-part production. This enabled us to expand our experience to the steel industry from our main application markets in aerospace and automotive. It has become clear that metal 3D printing is a serious alternative for a large variety of cast parts,” added Daan A.J. Kersten, Co-founder and CEO Additive Industries.
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