Metal Additive Manufacturing

Howco announces system pick for additive manufacturing facility

SLM 500 in the hotseat

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Howco’s new additive manufacturing facility in Houston will house a new SLM 500 selective laser melting machine, which allows Howco to furnish its additive manufacturing segment to clients. This new facility uses a single metal printer to respond to clients’ on-demand needs for custom parts. The SLM 500’s powder bed fusion system is a tried-and-true production model backed by a global supply chain. Howco’s choice of supplier appears to ensure production stability—a crucial need for any business, but one doubly necessary for Howco’s oil and gas client base operating in the Gulf of Mexico.

Howco is an oil and gas manufacturing service conglomerate that produces metal parts spanning the range of traditional metal manufacturing applications. Additive manufacturing is a new addition to Howco’s offering that responds even more quickly to consumer needs. Howco offers straight part design and manufacture alongside reverse engineering manufacturing. These twin design processes give Howco a range of design options when responding to clients’ needs.

SLM Solutions, a German company with an American base in Michigan, markets the SLM 500. The company is known for having invented selective laser melting. Its product line spans sizes ranging from very small to very large; the SLM 500 is the second largest of the machines on offer. SLM’s American base allows it to partner to ensure its system’s smooth integration at Howco’s new facility.

Floor plan of Howco's additive manufacturing facility The SLM 500 installed at Howco’s facility is a quad-laser system with a total power rating of 1600 watts. This laser configuration is the smaller of two possible configurations. A higher power configuration can bring the rating to 2800 watts. Howco’s build chamber is 500 by 280 by 365 millimeters large. SLM provides a build chamber handling device and a powder removal station, which enhances the machine’s safe operation. Powder handling is automated through a closed-loop transport system, thus ensuring further operator safety.

The potential application for the SLM 500 at Howco includes oil and gas. The location of Howco’s facility in Houston also allows it to capture elements of the transportation, aerospace, industrial, and medical markets. These prospects suggest that Howco might take a bigger stake in additive manufacturing if this facility sees a brisk business.

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Adam Strömbergsson

Adam is a legal researcher and writer with a background in law and literature. Born in Montreal, Canada, he has spent the last decade in Ottawa, Canada, where he has worked in legislative affairs, law, and academia. Adam specializes in his pursuits, most recently in additive manufacturing. He is particularly interested in the coming international and national regulation of additive manufacturing. His past projects include a history of his alma mater, the University of Ottawa. He has also specialized in equity law and its relationship to judicial review. Adam’s current interest in additive manufacturing pairs with his knowledge of historical developments in higher education, copyright and intellectual property protections.

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