Metal additive layer manufacture secures additional growth for CA Models.
A year ago, CA Models took delivery of a Concept Laser M2 LaserCUSING machine, bringing the company one-step closer to fulfilling its ultimate aim – being a unique service provider in the field. Recognized as a market leader in the rapid prototyping industry, CA Models already offered high quality prototypes via stereolithography (SLA), selective laser sintering (SLS), fused deposition modeling (FDM), CNC machining, and vacuum casting. This additive and subtractive manufacturing portfolio was enhanced further with metal additive layer manufacturing, following the introduction of the new M2 LaserCUSING machine in 2012.
The purchase of the M2 machine from ES Technology has been instrumental in opening up a series of new opportunities for CA Models. This machine brings much more than just the capability to produce prototypes in titanium and aluminium alloys, materials widely used within the automotive, motorsport, aerospace, medical, satellite, and oil and gas industries.
The M2 LaserCUSING process involves fusing metallic powder, building layer upon layer (similar to SLS). This process allows 3D CAD designers greater design freedom, making it possible to design and directly manufacture custom components, including those with complex geometries, which might otherwise be impractical or even impossible to make using conventional techniques.
CA Models recently have used the M2 machine to trial build the same component, comparing several different types of intricate internal structures. The result was a component that weighs 40% less than those manufactured by conventional methods. Although significantly lighter than conventionally machined counterparts, CA Models M2 component still provides good strength-to-weight ratio, performing at the required levels of strength for the demanding applications within which they will operate. Furthermore, CA Models has the added advantage of being able to post-machine laserCUSED components, essential for achieving critical and tight tolerances.
“Although we recognized there was potential for additional growth through metal additive layer manufacturing, the actual levels of enquiries and resultant new business over the last 12 months has exceeded our expectations,” says Clark Campbell, director of CA Models. “We have been able to further develop our working relationship with existing customers and also secure new business, some of which has been significant in value, from customers operating across several different market sectors.
“The high utilization of the machine during the last 12 months means that we have gained an immense amount of experience in a relatively short period of time using different software packages and experimenting with different build configurations.”
ES Technology’s Colin Cater adds that, “When customers first look into metal AM [additive manufacturing] machines, the initial concerns are with establishing a customer base accepting metals as prototypes or custom production. CA Models has positively embraced the technology, and has now gained not only confidence but also a detailed understanding of which industries and applications are most suited, not just to the machine, but also the technology. The initial decision to focus on aluminium, a material not normally associated with AM, has proven to be a successful one, and has firmly established CA Models as one of only a handful of worldwide companies with this capability, further enhancing its reputation.”
With its already prominent position within the rapid prototyping industry now bolstered with this additional expertise, capability, and confidence in metal additive layer manufacture, CA Models look set to continue to expand into new markets and applications.
Watch the metal additive layer manufacturing process.