The Digital Manufacturing Centre (DMC) based at Silverstone will be one of the first businesses to receive Renishaw’s revolutionary new RenAM 500 Flex machine. Through its long-term collaboration with Renishaw, the DMC has been selected as a key beta site for ‘in industry’ testing. These final phases of the development program will verify the RenAM 500 Flex’s capabilities and versatility in a busy commercial production environment.
The RenAM 500 Flex is set to radically enhance commercial metal additive manufacturing operations by allowing users to easily switch between material types without compromising part quality. In turn, this will improve pre-production testing and material selection, while also allowing users to establish parameters that can be easily transferred to more automated machines, like the RenAM 500, for faster serial production.
The RenAM 500 Flex combines the industry-leading gas flow capabilities and build chamber of the renowned RenAM 500 with a simplified, non-recirculating powder system that enables a complete material change within one shift – around 8 hours. Available in both single and quad-laser configurations, the Flex includes the same process monitoring capabilities as the regular RenAM 500, allowing for transferable melt pool analysis.
The system has been designed to minimise material loss between transitions, with easier retrieval and cleaning than conventional machines – particularly within the same material family. To help facilitate contaminant-free material changes, Renishaw has developed ‘material change kits’ that include all the required seals and gaskets needed for an optimised switch. If the material flexibility is no longer required, or there is increased demand for build capacity, the RenAM 500 Flex can be easily upgraded with the automated powder handling of the RenAM 500.
With the DMC now fully operational and fulfilling orders from a wide variety of advanced sectors, the RenAM 500 Flex will further enable the DMC team to solve complex engineering challenges. With faster material and part testing, DMC engineers will be able to maximise part quality and performance. Additionally, the RenAM 500 Flex can operate as a production system, thereby further increasing the DMC’s total build capacity.
Renishaw will be providing DMC engineers with extensive training on the material change process and guidance on how to fully explore and exploit the RenAM 500 Flex’s capabilities in a production environment. The RenAM 500 Flex is set to be officially launched by Renishaw at Formnext in Frankfurt, Germany (16-19 November 2021).
Jonathan Archer, General Manager at Renishaw, said “One of the most limiting factors in metal additive manufacturing is the restriction on material changes. This hampers the speed of material testing, impeding exploration and experimentation in the development and production of new parts. Our engineering development team have comprehensively addressed this challenge with the exciting new RenAM 500 Flex.
“As part of our final development testing, we are trialling the real-world performance of the RenAM 500 Flex in the busy production environments of key beta sites – one of which being the DMC. Over the past 18 months, we have worked closely with the DMC leadership and engineering team to develop and implement new systems and products. This is yet another reflection of the ongoing strength and trust of this collaborative relationship.”
Kieron Salter, Chief Executive Officer at the DMC, added: “As one of the UK’s leading engineering and advanced AM providers, we strive to find the right production solutions to solve customer challenges. An extremely important part of that development process is material selection. While variable material pre-production testing was not previously feasible, the ground-breaking RenAM 500 Flex enables it directly. Better still, the parameters that we develop on the Flex can be easily transferred to our regular Renishaw RenAM machines for serial production. We are thrilled to have been selected as a beta site for this new machine and very much look forward to once again working with Renishaw’s talented team.”
Headquartered in Silverstone Park, the DMC will realise the disruptive potential of additive and connected manufacturing. Providing serial production parts and technology solutions, the DMC was created by leading engineering company KW Special Projects and made possible through significant investment from the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP).