By: Jürgen Steiner, Messer Austria
Reading time: 2 Minutes
◤ INTERVIEW I
Large-format 3D printing
John Meuthen, Group Manager XXL Additive Manufacturing at RHP-Technology
© RHP-Technology Plasma Metal Deposition www.rhp-technology.com
What does your group produce?
We make large-format components from a very wide range of alloys. Along with nickel-based alloys like Inconel 718, this also includes steels and aluminum and magnesium materials, and above all, titanium materials. Using the Plasma Metal Deposition (PMD) process, we can produce components of up to two meters in length. In addition, we use our extensive powder metallurgy background for process and material development.
What is your target group?
We are experiencing continuously growing demand mainly in the aerospace industry as well as in the automotive industry and in tool making. Our technology is also of increasing interest to the construction sector. The work we do for the European Space Agency (ESA) includes development projects and feasibility studies, among other things.
What special challenges does the aerospace industry pose?
It uses very many titanium components. Typical machining operations generally result in material losses of up to 80 percent. With additive manufacturing using PMD, material losses are only around 10 to 20 percent. Titanium is very expensive, so our process combines quality with economy.
© RHP-Technology GmbH
The very good price-performance ratio impressed us right from the start.
What role do gases play in the manufacture of these components?
They are indispensable for PMD, and gas quality must be absolutely perfect. For the monitored shielding gas atmosphere, we use argon. In addition, we use reactive gases to optimize processes and maintain a more tolerant process window. Our PMD machine has a volume of 13 cubic meters. That space must be filled with argon. Once the fabrication of a component has been completed, the gas is replaced. All in all, this adds up to a hefty quantity. In early October, we opened our application center for additive processes, where we expect another increasing demand.
How does your collaboration with Messer work?
The very good price-performance ratio impressed us right from the start. Moreover, Messer also supports us with comprehensive expertise and provides us with equipment for practical testing prior to purchase. That’s what I call excellent customer service. And whenever we request rapid delivery of a special solution, then that’s always possible too, even on short notice. The supply reliability and reproducible purity of the gases are of tremendous importance. And we need the specific know-how of the gases experts who provide us with reliable support.
RHP-Technology GmbH was established in 2010 as a spin-off of AIT Austrian Institute of Technology. Since then, the company has transformed itself from a research group specialized in hot pressing into a company with a worldwide reputation for innovative powder technologies and smart material developments. Headquartered at its research center in Seibersdorf, Austria, RHP has an international team of 40 employees, whose strong commitment to innovation goes beyond the state of the art and supports over 100 customer and research projects per year.