Mitsubishi anticipates metal AM industry
Prepares for future of metal manufacturing with 3D printing Metal Tech News – December 9, 2020
Last updated 12/8/2020 at 3:52pm
Mitsubishi Power Ltd., a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, is heralding a future of 3D metal printing with AM-Zone, a facility that utilizes world-leading technology and materials to promote greater utilization of additive manufacturing technologies.
Renamed earlier this year from Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Ltd., the new Mitsubishi Power has been rebranded to enhance its reputation as a world leader in enabling the decarbonization of electric power through innovative power generation technology.
Toward this objective, the company is investing heavily into 3D metal printing technology.
Utilizing the incredible potential of additive manufacturing, Mitsubishi Power has developed its own proprietary technology that is optimized for AM applications and has achieved improved shape accuracy than previously available.
Mitsubishi Power has even developed a succinct definition for additive manufacturing: "Next-generation manufacturing technology that enables the creation of shapes difficult to achieve with existing cutting, forging, casting and sheet metal pressing."
At present, 3D printing and additive manufacturing are generally used synonymously, with 3D printing having multiple different methods of achieving similar results, with no singular method being remarkably more effective than another.
However, in the case of 3D metal printing, the difference becomes much more disparate, with one primary problem holding the majority of the technology back, adequate material strength.
You can read more about the many different methods of additive manufacturing in Advancing metal 3D printing tech in the May 13 edition of Metal Tech News.
According to Mitsubishi, its technology has managed to overcome that drawback.
Mitsubishi's proprietary material technologies in metal AM can optimally prepare raw materials for each application required, as well as significantly enhance the performance of powder manufacturing equipment. This has been achieved through the incorporation of the company's specially developed high-performance gas nozzles into a system that produces metal powder materials by atomizing inert gas into vacuum-fused metals.
The development of this specialized nozzle allows for finer grain size powder, which enables both the high shape accuracy as well as greater strength of the printed product – unlocking the potential of metal AM in a plethora of applications.
In preparation for a full-scale launch of its AM business, Mitsubishi Power recently entered into a licensing agreement with Aubert & Duval, a leading European manufacturer of special alloys and metal powders.
This agreement is intended to pave the way to a full-scale inauguration of Mitsubishi Power's AM business, which will apply the company's proprietary technologies in gas turbines and other thermal power systems to more conveniently and efficiently develop its series of turbines and show the power of AM in future industrial manufacturing.
Aubert & Duval's reputation for providing highly reliable metallurgical solutions for aerospace, energy defense and other demanding industries is the reason Mitsubishi Power opted to collaborate with the France-based metal supplier in the hopes to better promote its burgeoning AM business.
Under this new agreement, Mitsubishi hopes to combine Aubert & Duval's know-how in the composition and manufacturing of metal powders with its own capabilities and proprietary technologies to enable provision of powders optimally suited to metal AM.
This integration is expected to significantly improve the capabilities of AM products and therefore increase market value for the developing technology.
For Mitsubishi Power, this collaborative agreement marks a significant first step towards full-scale development of its AM business.
In September, Mitsubishi Power created AM-Zone, a one-stop additive manufacturing showroom, within its Hitachi Works facility in the Ibaraki Prefecture in Japan. This new facility is currently equipped with powder manufacturing equipment and metal AM systems of all kinds and is capable of fully integrated production – from the development of specialized metal powders and wire materials to 3D metal printing and product completion.
This new facility is conducting tours and other activities to promote the potential of AM technologies, with a focus on online tours being offered to showcase the latest technologies during this period of increasing digitalization due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moving forward, Mitsubishi Power plans to pursue labor-saving measures through remote operations and digital manufacturing.