Prodways’ Rapid Additive Forging Technology — A New Approach to Printing Metal
26 June 2017
Prodways Group recently announced the launch of their Rapid Additive Forging (RAF) technology. This new method of 3D printing metal works by building up layers of molten metal in a cloud of inert gas, allowing parts that would previously have taken several months to produce to be delivered in a few hours, with minimal material waste. The long-term goal of the new technology is to print metal parts in a way that consistently delivers superior metallurgical quality compared to previous methods.
At the time of writing, the technology is only being utilised to produce blanks, which are then finished using CNC machining to produce the finished part. This does mean the extra machining and finishing will need to be factored into project workflows, but as the technology evolves, it’s quite possible that a higher level of detail will become achievable. Whether this will be comparable to the detail that can be achieved using laser sintering methods remains to be seen though, so it is possible that RAF could remain a specialist tool for large-scale metal parts.
While the technology is still in its nascent stages, the potential applications in industries such as automotive and aerospace are readily apparent. In particular, early tests with titanium are certainly encouraging, given this metal’s widespread use in the aerospace sector. Prodways’ current research into printing progressively larger parts of up to 2m also bode well for any sector where large, high-quality metal parts are required.
It’s always exciting to see a new method of 3D printing unveiled, but if it is to successfully establish itself, it’s essential that the most effective applications are identified, and intelligent project workflows are established. This is especially important for technologies like RAF, where hybrid processes will need to be implemented. We look forward to seeing more applications of this technology in the near future!