Accumold recently announced a further investment in its micro additive manufacturing (AM) capability, having just finalized the purchase of a second Fabrica 2.0 machine from Nano Dimension. The continued integration of precision micro AM at Accumold complements the micro molding services that the company already provides and which it has been innovating for over 30 years.
Micro AM appeals to an array of Accumold’s customers who, up until now, have not been able to cost-effectively or efficiently fulfill design intent using traditional manufacturing processes. In addition, being agnostic to part complexity, and therefore allowing the manufacture of hollow structures, holes, complicated interior details, and atypical shapes, micro AM is promoting innovation as an enabling technology.
“We have invested in micro AM, more specifically the Fabrica 2.0 machine from Nano Dimension, not as a replacement technology, but something complimentary to our existing technology portfolio,” said Aaron Johnson, vice president of marketing and customer strategy at Accumold. “It will make the prototype stage of the product development process that much more flexible and quicker for our customers. In time, it will move towards small- to medium-sized production runs and also promote creative geometric complexity and mass customization. The continued investment in micro AM is another step in our disruptive journey, a journey we have been on for decades and which we will continue on for decades to come as we lead the quest for the smallest features on the most innovative products possible.”
While the Fabrica 2.0 can cater to volume applications (multiple thousands of small parts and components fitting easily in the machine’s 50x50x100 mm build envelope), the introduction of an AM solution for micro manufacturers also means that OEMs are able to reduce the reliance on economies of scale, as the technology makes full production runs measured in thousands as inexpensive as producing one. Micro AM technology makes low- to medium-volume production runs possible that have previously been uneconomical due to the high tooling and setup costs associated with traditional manufacturing alternatives.
“In general terms, success through the use of the Fabrica 2.0 is measured in microns and hours. Micron-level detail can be achieved without the need to fabricate tools, and this means that you can have intricate and geometrically complex prototypes in a matter of hours,” said Johnson. “There is a limit to the ability to create complicated parts using traditional micro tooling. With increased complexity comes increased cost, but not when using the Fabrica 2.0 micro AM technology. The absence of the requirement for a physical tool lifts the lid for design engineers to think out of the box and attain design goals previously unimaginable. This design freedom coupled with the inherent manufacturing agility that is a core characteristic of AM require a root and branch re-assessment of all aspects of the product development process, a disruption that is a spur to the stimulation of future product successes and enhanced market share and profitability. Through the use of the Fabrica 2.0, you can also optimize workflow, the technology producing less scrap and fewer tools than conventional manufacturing processes. It also promotes the reduction of iterative process, assembly, and inventory. This means that significant operational cost benefits are now attainable at the micro manufacturing level for our customers.”
Accumold has been a Beta customer of Nano Dimension’s Fabrica 2.0 system since May 2021. Following the performance of the system and how it has helped the company meet customer needs, Accumold decided to purchase the Beta system and an additional Fabrica system to further leverage the technology’s 3D micro-printing capabilities. As a versatile technology appropriate for prototyping, small batches, and potentially even mass manufacturing, it is now stimulating innovation in the micro-manufacturing sector and truly changing the economics of manufacturing.