Aditiv Solutions, a self-funded South African company with a focus on providing affordable metal 3D printing solutions, has proudly announced that the company has printed its first component – dubbed ‘Bracketosaurus’ – on the company’s locally designed and developed metal 3D printer appropriately named Hyrax, which is nearing final stages of development.
“At the beginning of June 2021 the team came to me and said they think the prototype machine was ready for its first test run. So instead of spending weeks printing the usual basic shapes, we decided to really go for it and give the machine a proper challenge. The result was just beautiful,” explained Marius Vermeulen, CEO and founder of Aditiv Solutions.
“The Hyrax uses powder bed fusion technology and runs a 400W fiber laser to melt layers of powder to ‘print’ a component from metal powder. This component was printed in AISI 304 stainless steel and we credit Nic Adams for his CAD drawing that is posted on GrabCAD,” continued Vermeulen.
“Next up on the to-do-list is to take a step back and do some parameter optimisation, followed by mechanical property evaluation, so keep a look out for results on that.”
Aditiv Solutions has successfully produced its first component on the South African developed Hyrax metal 3D printer
The company was started at the end of 2019 by Marius Vermeulen, Kobus Wolvaardt (CEO of GoodX Software), Pieta Ferreira, director and chief mechanical engineer and Jacobus Prinsloo, director and chief control system engineer.
“The company has vast experience in additive manufacturing (AM), with some of the leading experts in South Africa in the development of high-end metal additive manufacturing machines. The Aditiv team has been integrally involved in the development of the world-first Aeroswift technology and has experience in machine design, optical systems, control systems, AM software development and material process development. The team also has experience in providing metal 3D printing solutions to clients in a range of industries, including providing successful solutions to the commercial aviation industry.”
“I have been involved with AM since 2006 when I was first introduced to the technology. After completing my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering at the University of Pretoria in 2004 I started my career in the aerospace industry where I spent 14 years focusing on the development of various manufacturing processes for the aviation industry. In my early years I focussed on automation of aerospace manufacturing processes and established an automation and continuous improvement team at Aerosud.”
The Aditiv team has been involved with 3D printing for many years and has extensive research experience regarding the use of the technology for the aviation industry. They have been actively involved in project Aeroswift, a South African collaborative project between the CSIR and Aerosud Innovation Centre. The Aeroswift project is focussed on the development of a high-speed, large scale, powder bed fusion metal 3D printer.
Through its partnership with one of South Africa’s leading software development companies, GoodX Software, the company also has substantial resources in software development, cloud management, app development and hardware integration, all critical factors in aligning AM with the newest industry trends and requirements.
Aditiv Solutions, a self-funded South African company, was established to manufacture an AM machine with a focus on providing affordable metal 3D printing solutions. The machine, named Hyrax, is nearing final stages of development
“Leveraging on this experience, as well as on its extensive network of suppliers and technology partners, allows Aditiv Solutions to develop AM machines at a fraction of the cost of what major OEMs can do, we believe.”
“Our metal 3D printer can address the manufacturing requirements of a wider range of industries, which cannot afford the AM technologies currently employed by the aerospace and medical industries. By ensuring a more affordable solution, the possibilities arise for other industries to also capitalise on the advantages of AM.”
“The focus for Aditiv Solutions is the design, manufacture and sale of affordable metal 3D printers. Metal additive manufacturing has proven to be a technology with very specific advantages over conventional manufacturing processes. These advantages are mainly due to the fact that, firstly, the technology allows for the manufacture of net/near-net components with very little material waste. Secondly, the technology also allows for the manufacture of highly complex geometries which allows for reducing the weight of components, increasing functionality of components and also for reducing component count.”
“Due to these advantages the size of the AM industry is expanding rapidly today, especially in the field of producing metal components for final part production. However, the prohibitive cost of AM systems, and the subsequent high cost of AM produced components, are limiting the use of the technology mainly to so-called, high-value, low-volume industries, such as the aerospace and medical industries.”
“There is a large market for AM in South Africa and abroad in lower tech industries where the cost of AM is currently prohibitive. We started Aditiv Solutions with the belief that there is potential to address these markets and that it can be done by supplying solutions with:
· lower capital requirements
· lower production costs and
· a focus on running lower cost materials such as stainless steels, tool steels and others
· locally developed, produced and supported machines
“We believe that our machines can reduce the cost of metal 3D printing dramatically and thereby increase its uses in the manufacturing space.”
History and development of the Hyrax
“We started the development of the Hyrax machine in September 2019, with a team of four people. Soon after we started the company, COVID-19 happened and we had to refocus our efforts for a few months. During this time we were approached by medical companies to develop a unit that can be used by doctors and medical personnel to sterilise personal items. It was quite an interesting project and we produced two sterilisers in record time that were locally tested and certified at the CSIR.”
“When COVID-19 stabilised and our manufacturers came back online we managed to continue our development work. Our machines are fully designed in-house including mechanical systems, control systems and software. Our optical systems are imported, but all mechanical systems are manufactured by local companies and assembled in-house. To ensure that the machine can produce components of the highest quality, it is equipped with the best-in-class (German manufactured) fiber laser and optical system.”
The Hyrax uses powder bed fusion technology and runs a 400W fiber laser to melt layers of powder to ‘print’ a component from metal powder. This component was printed in AISI 304 stainless steel and Aditiv Solutions credits Nic Adams for his CAD drawing that is posted on GrabCAD
“We are now completing the prototype machine and recently manufactured our first sample component. We are the only manufacturer of commercial metal 3D printing machines in South Africa.”
“We have established an initial customer base, as well as a ‘beta’ machine testing partner network. We approached leaders in the local 3D printing sector with our concept and have sold three ‘beta’ systems to date. Our first machine will be delivered in 2021 to the North West University (NWU) in Potchefstroom.”
“NWU aims to identify and impact potential markets where metal additive manufacturing can play a valuable role. As AM lends itself to producing unique parts and implement mass customisation the dental market holds great potential. Producing parts form CoCr by means of AM could lead to new innovative design concepts and could provide advantages to both the manufacturing industry and the patient,” said CP Kloppers of the North West University.
Two more machines were procured through the support of the National Research Foundation’s (NRF) National Equipment programme and will be delivered to the Vaal University of Technology and the Centre for Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing (CRPM) at the Central University of Technology, Free State.
Professor Deon de Beer of the Central University of Technology (CUT), Free State said that: “The CRPM Research Centre is in need of a metal AM research platform with a volume reduction unit and open parameter settings to accommodate small volumes of metal powder for research into 3D printing of new metals and metal base alloys.”
“An excellent example is the work done by the CUT to develop pure platinum powder for AM, and producing benchmark parts to demonstrate that South Africa has the capability to add value to local resources through developing new AM materials,” continued De Beer.
“For this, the Aditiv Solutions LPBF machine will make a significant contribution. In working with platinum, we have just scratched the surface of working with the PGM group metals as part of adding value to local resources,” says De Beer. He concluded that the Aditiv Solutions machine, which was co-funded between the NRF National Equipment Platform and the CUT, will make a significant contribution to local research development, new applications and materials.
According to Malan van Tonder of the Vaal University of Technology: “The university already has a strong capability in rapid casting applications and will use the Hyrax platform to extend their services to include metal additive manufacturing. The university will use this opportunity to offer Metal AM (MAM) design and manufacturing services to industry and use the platform to expand their research and training focus areas, which include industry 4.0 applications, general engineering metal AM material development to satisfy industry requirements, applied AM metal training and metal AM application development.”
“There are currently about 10 metal 3D printing machines in the country and these sales have thus increased the South African metal AM machine footprint by ~30%, which is significant. Through the sale of these machines, we have established a network of ‘beta’ testing partners to allow us to take the machines through their paces and to speed up the time to market,” said Vermeulen.
Materials and alloys
“The machine can process a wide range of materials and alloys. However, our initial focus is on materials that are commonly used in industry such as stainless steels and tool steels. The metal powders are unfortunately not produced locally and all our powders are currently imported. Over the last number of years, metal powder suppliers have increased dramatically and the cost of the material has been reduced. We aim to rapidly expand the materials that we can process in the machine and will be working with our ‘beta’ partner network to develop process parameters for other materials such as cobalt chrome, titanium, maraging steels, aluminium and some less common materials as well.”
“Today, South Africa is a nett importer of manufacturing equipment with a limited machine building industry in the manufacturing sector. When trying to establish a local machine building industry, it is difficult to play catch-up with international suppliers in well-established industries such as CNC machine tools and injection moulding equipment. However, metal 3D printing is a relatively new industry in which South Africa has substantial resources and knowledge base. This has been built up over the years through associations and programmes such as RAPDASA (the Rapid Product Development Association of South Africa), CPAM (the DSI supported Collaborative Programme in Additive Manufacturing) and Aeroswift and it is supported though a strong local academic base. We believe that metal 3D printing will see tremendous growth into the future and that our local experience base makes this an ideal technology for South Africa to become a player in the machine building industry.”
Hyrax – dassie in Afrikaans
“We are proud to be a South African company and passionate about the local brand. This passion is reflected in our first product, the Hyrax, or dassie in Afrikaans. This little hardy creature is well known by every South African and ingrained in our culture. The dassie may be small, but it is the closest living relative to the elephant. For us, the Hyrax not only speaks of our roots, but also our future.”
For further details contact Aditiv Solutions on 072 729 4581 or visit www.aditiv.co.za