Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Nozzles
Article was accepted for publication 1.03.2019
What was so impressive about the exhibition and conference? We share our impressions of what we saw and heard. For the sake of brevity and clarity, we will first give a few numbers:
2 – this much of big announcements of serious products, the importance of which has yet to be realized;
2 – this much of new formats were added in addition to the reports: master classes and 3d battles “The best vs. the Best”;
3 – the conference and exhibition of 3D fab+print Russia is held in Moscow for the third time;
3 – this much of full days the conference was held;
5 – just as many countries were represented by speakers this year: Russia, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden;
6–7 – this much of hours a conference was held every day;
50 – this much of speakers talked about their experience with AT application.
Everyone knows that the research center of the aviation industry of FSUE “VIAM”, together with the Science and Innovations JSC of the State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom, is engaged in the development of additive technologies and their standardization in the Russian Federation. In accordance with the instructions of the Government and the Ministry of Industry and Trade, a Comprehensive Action Plan for the development and implementation of additive technologies in the Russian Federation for the period 2018–2025 was developed, which will allow the Russian scientists and developers to combine their efforts in achieving a common goal. As of today, more than a dozen national standards have already been approved as part of the TC “Additive Technologies”, and the same number is planned to be completed by 2020. A clear understanding of strict standards and technical certification in the additive industry will allow us to quickly and safely introduce new technologies in the industry, preserve and use our scientific potential to create competitive products for their implementation both in Russia and abroad.
The prospects are clear: industry leaders and government officials have showed their interest. The workflow flywheel spins up, inevitably adding problems, but being a prerequisite for innovation. Well, what about the money? Shall we hang on? Obviously, this is not about smart, young and goal-oriented people, who promote innovation to the detriment of their well-being, health and time, but they sense the importance and inevitability of the universal use of additive technologies.
Why do we talk so much about young professionals? Many Russian developing companies of 3 D- printers, 3D-scanners, software, materials for the ecosystem of additive manufacturing have mostly young specialists employed, who are full of energy, hopes, breakthrough ideas to translate into products that change traditional industry beyond recognition.
Today there are a lot of examples of such young companies in Russia: “Titan-Avangard” (TM Additive Solutions), “Lasers and Apparatus”, MCTL, TsNIITMASH, RITs UrFU, “Laser Systems”, “LAR Technologies”, “Additive Technologies”, “Anisoprint”, “Exclusive Solutions” (TM 3DSLA, RussianSLM), Picaso 3D, Total Z, Russian engineer (TM Red Rock 3D), Tsar 3D, Irwin (TM Magnum), ISL Group of Companies, Bestfilament, REK, “Center SPRUT-T”, Moscow Aviation Institute, SPETSAVIA, Apis Cor and many others.
For sure, it is easier for the serious corporate structures and well-established companies diversifying their core businesses, working in the innovation field of additive technologies in terms of own funds raised from other successful projects, as well as the use of public investment (e. g., Rusatom – Additive Technologies, RDC PJSC “Electromechanics”, “Kalashnikov” Concern, Novomet Group of Companies, etc.). The startups, due to budget constraints, have to rely on their own unpretentious but talented teams. For example, according to Denis Vlasov, CEO of Exclusive Solutions LLC, he has several unique people involved in the development of hardware and electronics, and one programmer on a permanent basis on Triangulatica software! Another example: Titan Avangard LLC – only 9 months have passed from development of Additive Solutions D250 LBM installation to implementation in the hardware by a team of 5 people! Just imagine the effectiveness of these Russian companies compared to such “monsters” as Stratasys, 3D Systems, Fraunhofer Institute, EOS, SLM Solutions, GE, Materialize and others. What many foreign companies need for decades and millions of foreign currency investments, Russian engineers effortlessly make dozens of times faster and cheaper, without forgetting about unique patented solutions.
Most of the developed solutions of companies already have the highest level of trust among both Russian and foreign users. It”s not hard to imagine what products our talented developers are able to create with an adequate amount of investment. But where are these investors and customer companies? The Russian developers and customers understand that it is not enough to design and manufacture even high-end equipment – bringing it to a production-line product with stable printing modes requires quite a long time and high financial costs, as well as customer loyalty and support from national leaders of the country.
At the 3D fab+print Russia 2019 project, the equipment developers did not take initiatives to discuss problems in investments and sales, but the new exclusive format of “The Best vs. the Best” conference (in other words, the 3D battle) revealed some of the difficulties these companies face and forced to talk “heart to heart”. Denis Vlasov and Vladimir Karapetiyants (Equipment for industrial 3D printing with metals – LLC Exclusive Solutions vs. JSC Laser Systems), as well as Dmitry Miller and Denis Berchuk (Materials for affordable 3D printing – LLC REK vs. Bestfilament) feel very lively, fun and optimistic about the future of the industry. However, they are not afraid to discuss the issues related to Consumers of their products, with competition, with government support. The problems will appear with the approach of fundamentally new technologies with different rates, quality and cost. In the long run, these technologies can “shatter” the business of Russian companies producing additive equipment and materials that have spent considerable money on the development and purchase of auxiliary equipment.
TWO SMOKING NOZZLES
Though it is almost impossible to compete with foreign vendors in terms of the volume of investment in development, we are quite capable of creating competitive products with a high degree of innovation.
For example, Denis Vlasov (LLC Exclusive Solutions) made a big announcement of Russian technology based on new physical principles that will determine the future of additive technologies for the next 25 years (for reference: currently, more than 50 printing methods are patented by manufacturers of 3D printers). So far, Denis has not shown the current prototype, but claims that his technology will allow to form products at the same time from various high-molecular compounds, and the concept of a layer here will be completely abolished.
Another example is Titan-Avangard LLC with the development of Additive Solutions D2503D-printer. A feature of the equipment is a fully open platform, and minimizing the effects of defocusing a laser beam has already been highly appreciated by foreign colleagues.
POLEMA JSC presented its developments in the production of new CompoNiAl-M5–3 powders, super-invar alloys, high entropy alloys, heat-proof and heat-resistant alloys, the use of powder spheroidization equipment and MIM-technologies.
Svetlana Khashirova from the H. M. Berbekov Kabardino-Balkar State University proudly demonstrated the results of her team”s work in the development of superstructure polymers: polyethersulfones, polyetherimides, polyether ketones, polyphenylene sulfides, and the filling of some of them with chopped carbon fibers.
Aviadvigatel JSC represented by Alexei Kurchev showed that in modern conditions of high competition, the one who offers high-quality products and a high level of service support wins, allowing to switch to the model of life cycle contract and payment for actual product function consumption in relations with product customers.
Generally, traditional for visitors of Interplastica and chemical and polymer industry exhibition, many companies with equipment based on FFF / FDM technology with polymer fiber, equipped with one or two extruders were introduced at the 3D fab+print Russia 2019 exhibition. The presented 3D printers of both Russian and foreign versions fought for the consumer mainly with their design, camera dimensions, ability to work with high-melting high-performance thermoplastics. Here everything is quite understandable and predictable – the manufactures of the mature FDM technology are trying to find new markets and show users new applications.
LBM / SLM, DED / DMD / LMD metal technologies are already well known to everybody, and their applications are widely represented by groundwork and successful business cases. Nevertheless, the users are constantly discussing the metallurgical problems of the products obtained when using Russian metal powders on both domestic and imported equipment, difficulties in predicting printing results. This is where simulation modeling comes to the rescue using software by, e. g., MSC Software, Siemens, Autodesk, which we were told about by Aleksey Gontyuk, Oleg Chizh, Alexey Nikulin, respectively. A special invited guest, Rebecca Jurtz, Sales Director of GEFERTEC GmbH, spoke about a new trend in working with metals for the production of large-sized products – 3DMP technology, which works with ordinary welding wire and an electric arc to melt it.
The issues of scanning and control of products solved with the help of hand-held scanners and computed tomography did not stay on the sidelines. By the way, there are successful domestic development companies of affordable scanners in Russia, some of which have already gained world fame.
Sustainable economic growth requires the development of a production system, sales, and the service sector. Moreover, the politicians, government officials and economists of developed countries unanimously speak about the need to develop their own model of the manufacturing industry, engineering and machine-tool construction, since the success of the economy in the era of digitalization depends on the technical and technological capabilities of industrialists. An additive technology ecosystem can provide what is required in this case. Such meetings of leading manufacturing companies, service integrators, as well as the users and potential customers can help our economy get rid of fashionable, but “dangerous” imports of all production equipment, materials, and services. It is expected that the distribution of competence centers network combined in the manufacturers market, will allow all Russian enterprises and service providers to get closer to the global model of Job Shop with the production of engineering products at 80%: the high level of capacity utilization and lower unit costs level.
Unfortunately, an unprepared user in Russia is faced with the problem of the lack of qualified help in finding the right additive technology and equipment independently. There is also a low level of service in the country. Not all popular integrators can offer the customer audits of production and offer an adequate technology of making a particular part or parts, including molding, machining blade CNC or additive one. Often, managers of companies who are well versed in the 3D-printers offered by them, do not imagine the features of traditional technologies and practically impose innovation on the customer only in the form of additive technologies. The Russian market needs industry integrators who are well versed in both classical and new technologies, ready to offer a comprehensive solution of a set of software and technological tools (Rusatom – Additive Technologies LLC, TIK LVM AT LLC, FITNIK LLC, Modern equipment LLC, etc.).
In conclusion, I would like to share with the feedback by Sergey Maltsev, director of corporate relations of the well-known research company, J”son & Partners Consulting, on the results of the 3D fab+print Russia 2019exhibition and conference: “In short, I was surprised by the quality of the speakers and the depth of the presentations. You have the only strong event in the country dedicated specifically to the industrial use of 3D-printing. The rest is, as our British partners say – hot air around the mass market”.
We are grateful to all the speakers and visitors of the 3D fab+print Russia 2019 exhibition and conference for preparing a unique and useful event. We believe that the Russian market of additive technologies can become one of the top world”s thanks to digitalization, government regulation and high scientific potential of development.
We will definitely meet with you at our 3D fab+print project next year at Interplastica 2020, which will be held in Moscow from January 28 to January 31 at the Expocentre Exhibition Center! ▪