Having established a rich heritage of making some of the world’s most robust metal fabricating machinery including press brakes, shears, and lasers, the firm has expanded its operations into additive manufacturing landscape. “Traditionally, 3D printers were making small fragile parts for visualization of product prototypes which was expensive and slow. Further, the additive industry continues to make parts with smaller layers for better resolutions and surface conditions which inherently take a long time to operationalize,” says Chen.
By leveraging the principle and thought— complexity is not necessarily free—CI creates larger layers that can be finished to meet accuracy or visual requirements post-processing.
SAAM is completely automated, which enables it to produce part after part without needing constant attention from a team of administrators
Being a 119-year-old machine tool company, CI’s partnership with ORNL has been instrumental to its continuous improvement journey. Through its collaboration with ORNL, CI has been able to accelerate its product development cycle timeline to six months. “We signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with ORNL in February 2014 and had our first order for a machine in July,” mentions Chen. Since then, CI has partnered with numerous companies in the development of BAAM to satisfy new applications by building new materials for 3D printing.
In their quest to innovate and develop continuously, CI is expanding its market into smaller additive manufacturing machinery. In November 2017, the firm recently acquired a company based in Boston—New Valence Robotics (NVBOTS)—to make a small printer called SAAM (Small Area Additive Manufacturing). The printer has been programmed on the cloud that allows it to be shared with a large number of engineers seamlessly. Chen adds, “SAAM is completely automated, which enables it to produce part after part without needing constant attention from a team of administrators.”