Every year, we award innovators in technology through our Leadership in Engineering Achievement Program (LEAP Awards). This year’s winners were selected by an independent judging panel of 14 professionals. In the additive manufacturing category, the winners developed innovative solutions to challenging problems. While much of the news in the additive industry is focused on partnerships, mergers, acquisitions, and going public on the stock market, it’s nice to see that innovation can still be found.
For example, many users need an additive system that can handle a range of production needs; growing and shrinking in capacity as necessary. EOS developed a printer that can deliver on that need, and won the Silver for its EOS M 300-4 metal 3D printer. The innovation here is the multiple configuration options available on this one printer. For industrial applications, this printer lets users choose the degree of automation that suits their needs. As demand for production increases, the machine can be configured to adapt. Up to four precision fiber lasers work over a 300 x 300 mm area, with each laser covering the entire space, improving productivity.
The modular platform offers a process chamber, dispenser module, setup and unpacking module, and a periphery module. These modules can be changed in the future; for example, a new dispensing module to connect continuous refilling setups, or an open interface for third party unpacking solutions, and automated unpacking solutions.
Another example comes from our Gold Award winner, HP Inc., for its Molded Fiber Advanced Tooling Solution, which addresses issues in recycling paper packaging. Additive technology users are interested in working with plastics for additive prototyping and production, but in ways that won’t hurt the environment. Thus, recycling is a hot topic. In Canada, for example, at least six types of single-use plastics will be banned by the end of 2021, and countries around the world are following suit.
The recycled paper packaging market is growing, making use of molded fiber or molded pulp typically made from recycled paperboard or newspapers when creating packing for a variety of products.
Molded fiber is renewable as it typically comes from many plant cellulose fibers, including bagasse, bamboo and wheat straw. The challenge was the equipment and tooling needed to create molds from this renewable source material.
HP developed a solution using its industrial 3D printing technology alongside its digital manufacturing software. The HP solution enables on-demand design and creation of molds for recycled molded pulp for packaging.
The company’s Molded Fiber Advanced Tooling Solution replaces the need for handcrafted screens, CNC machining, and manually drilled form tools. It eliminates the time-consuming and intensive manual fabrication involved in the traditional molded fiber tooling manufacturing process. The HP printed durable molds can be turned around fast and in more innovative packaging designs.
Additive manufacturing’s flexibility, and its economic benefits, continue to help engineers develop innovative solutions to today’s challenges. Congratulations to the winners!