Orlando, Fla. — Sodick Inc. showed its 3D metal printer at NPE2018, a product it calls its "one process machine" (OPM) can can do both 3D printing and high-speed milling to create finished molds and mold inserts.
The OPM allows for greater precision and complexity than print-only systems, the company says.
The printer uses the laser sintering process, building up layer-by-layer.
"It'll lay down a very thin layer of powdered metal," said Tom Hipp, national manager of Sodick's high-speed mill business at the company in Schaumburg, Ill.
The milling takes place after every 10 passes by the laser.
Hipp said the all-in-one process reduces the time it takes to make a mold. Sodick also is aiming the 3D metal printer at conformal cooling molds where the cooling channels follow the contours of the molded part.
NPE2018 marked the NPE debut of the OPM printer. Sodick introduced it at the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show.
The company also ran an OPM printer at an plant tour for attendees of the IMTECH conference last summer. IMTECH, focusing on injection molding, is sponsored by the Society of Plastics Engineers Injection Molding Division.