In a week of continued advances in the additive manufacturing industry, the launch of a new metal 3D printer comes from a perhaps slightly less expected source. Famous Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi Electric has announced that it will release two models of its AZ600 wire laser metal 3D printer on March 1. The launch not only shows the increased adoption of 3D printing by even large corporations, but also Mitsubishi’s commitment to sustainability, as this move is part of its efforts to reduce CO2 emissions in metal manufacturing.
Mitsubishi Electric Corporation was established in 1921 and is the core of Mitsubishi’s electrical and electronic equipment. Although perhaps slightly less well known than its cousin, Mitsubishi Motors, the company is a leading name in electronics, offering solutions in everything from air conditioning, transportation, factory automation, construction, energy, space, and more. They are now continuing their efforts in metal 3D printing as they will release what they claim to be the “The world’s first wire laser metal 3D printer that combines 5-axis simultaneous spatial control and digital additive manufacturing technology that precisely and cooperatively controls processing conditions.”
Why does Mitsubishi turn to AM?
More and more industries and companies are turning to additive manufacturing to achieve their goals thanks to the various benefits of the technologies. And this, of course, has also influenced Mitsubishi’s decision to launch this printer. In fact, Mitsubishi specifically points to the fact that AM helps shorten the conventional manufacturing process, reduces waste materials and improves design flexibility through easier part integration and weight reduction. The company points to these last two in particular as benefits it sees as helping to shift manufacturing toward a more decarbonized era.
Mitsubishi Electric Group has committed to a 2050 Environmental Sustainability Vision that seeks to solve environmental problems and drive decarbonization through various means. One of them, of course, is through the adoption of various technologies. The company hopes to reduce greenhouse gas targets throughout the value chain and, when it comes to metal manufacturing, has identified metal additive manufacturing as key to this. In particular, the company notes that AM contributes to manufacturing in a decarbonized era by “Reduce energy consumption, save resources by shortening processing time and using highly efficient production methods such as ‘near-net-shape,’ and support repair backlogs for the maintenance of specialized auto, ship and aircraft parts” .
Of course, moving to metal 3D printing doesn’t require the launch of a specialized machine. Mitsubishi Electric could follow in the footsteps of Mitsubishi Power, which already uses DED and binder injection solutions from leading manufacturers, including ExOne and FormUp. But Mitsubishi Electric decided to design its own solutions to also address what it saw as already existing problems with powder-based printers. They have adopted their own additive manufacturing process as a way to address material management, workability and safety issues.
In any case, the company points out that it hopes that this printer will contribute to the realization of high-quality and high-precision 3D prints, while also contributing to manufacturing through reduced environmental impact. If you are interested in learning more about the new printer, it will be on display at Additive Manufacturing Expo” from March 16-18 in Tokyo Big Sight. Or you can learn more about the launch in Mitsubishi’s press release HERE.
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