Additive manufacturing (3D Printing)
NTS specialises in the design, development and production of precision systems, modules and components for semiconductors, analytical and health markets. In these markets, customers and end users demand continuous product improvements. NTS has been actively focusing its efforts on Additive Manufacturing (AM, also known as 3D printing) since 2013, with the aim of meeting these improvement requirements and creating new designs that actually increase the functionality of a machine. Through our collaborations in different metal printing consortia and because we own or have shared ownership of various metal and polymer printers, we have been able to successfully acquire specific AM knowledge. In these projects, we also researched a number of different potential applications of AM and developed competences, design guidelines and work processes. All these ambitions have now come together and NTS is now able to answer specialised customer questions and can develop and manufacture cutting-edge products. At the same time, we are continually developing our own competences, seeing as the AM technology itself is still in full development.
Additive manufacturing vs Subtractive Manufacturing
When building complex machines, one needs to master a range of different techniques and competences. NTS has earned an impressive track record over the years, acquiring in-depth knowledge and competences in ultra-precision machining and post-processing of parts. These so-called subtractive manufacturing (SM) processes also have their limitations. They create waste and there are geometric restrictions because a tool of a CNC machine cannot reach every desired 3D position of a product that is being made.
““AM enables us to produce complex parts without a complex supply chain.”
- Reinout Veldhuizen, Additive Manufacturing Specialist & Mechanical Design Engineer
The benefits of Additive Manufacturing
Additive Manufacturing - as a manufacturing technology - should not be seen as a replacement for Subtractive Manufacturing, but rather an addition to it. Some of the AM benefits are:
- Stiffness-to-mass ratio; Topology optimisation for light and rigid structures. This ratio is a dominant factor in e.g. the performance of highly dynamic systems.
- Optimising cooling systems in machines; AM offers the option to create organic shapes and routes for integrated cooling or water manifolds. This allows different design choices to be made for improved flow and cooling performance characteristics.
- Reduction of complex supply chains; AM makes it possible to combine and integrate products. Examples include cooling plates or injectors that are made using conventional soldering or welding techniques, and can now be integrated into one AM product. This reduces the complexity in the supply chain and therefore saves costs and lead time.
Besides these general advantages, there are also customer-specific advantages and applications for additive manufacturing.
NTS unburdens its customers with new Additive Manufacturing applications
AM offers new possibilities, but can also create challenges. Although metal printing has already been around for over 25 years, applying the technique in specific products is often new. This can raise questions about material properties, such as tensile strength, density, porosity of a part, cleanliness in cleanroom applications, or the need and possibilities for post-processing. Through our extensive experience, for instance in Additive Manufacturing but also in other disciplines such as precision machining, we can remove any concerns and doubts our customers have.
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Additive Manufacturing and Subtractive Manufacturing go hand in hand
The production of parts is done by NTS itself or, in specific cases, by service providers. For many of the applications in high-tech and precision equipment, we often see that, in addition to the Additive Manufacturing process, the product design also needs to be modified. This usually involved post-processing and the product then needs to be thoroughly validated before being released.
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With the wealth of knowledge gained in recent years in the areas of development and production, NTS is able to unburden its customers throughout the entire process, from the initial idea to volume production, and with either fully in-house expertise or through its partner network.
What do we offer?
- The ability to manage and carry out the entire process from the product idea to the validated end product. Thanks to the diverse range of in-house competences, we can support the whole chain from idea to product;
- Printing SST 316L metals and AlSi10mg aluminium. We also have the capacity to print exotic materials, such as Maraging steel 1.2709, stainless steel 17-4 ph, Corrax stainless steel. Possibly in cooperation with partners in our network.
- Specific AM competences:
- The Do's and Don'ts of Additive Manufacturing, including design guidelines for AM
- Topology optimisation and CFD analysis via FEM
What can you expect?
NTS unburdens its customers with specific Additive Manufacturing cases through:
- Proactive input of our extensive experience in Additive Manufacturing;
- The establishment of and participation in various consortia to accelerate innovation in Additive Manufacturing and to further increase the applicability for our customers;
- Extensive market and application knowledge in semiconductor, analytical, medical and industrial markets;
- Years of experience in and knowledge of manufacturing competences, such as precision machining.
Do you want to discover how our expertise can help you shorten time to market?
Ask one of our experts