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Fontys on TU/e campus picks up on metal printing

First Dutch Renishaw printer for Fontys

Fontys College of Engineering (project-based partly located in Twice's hub Catalyst on the TU/e Campus) recently became the first in the Netherlands to have a Renishaw metal printer. The machine is housed on the Eindhoven university campus, where Mechanical Engineering, among others, has moved into the former accommodation of TNO Industrie en Techniek. Also, Fontys has become the first in Dutch higher and scientific education to join industry association Flam3D. The institution has also purchased a 3D scanner from GOM, to digitize objects and determine the realized accuracy of its metal prints.

Printing expert Rein van der Mast, former manager of Design & Engineering at Additive Industries and inventor of the metal-printed fountain pen nib, has been working part-time at Fontys for several years and now leads the research on 3D printing in metals there. Van der Mast: "Fontys started years ago with a machine from the German Concept Laser, an M3. When that began to show signs of age, a small, significantly more modern metal printer from the also German Trumpf was brought in, a TruPrint1000. That was a fine machine, but with a build volume of 100 mm diameter by little more than 100 mm, printing somewhat larger objects and larger quantities was less appropriate, however, while our need for it had increased. That's when we got into talks with Renishaw." When Fontys took up 3D printing emphatically five years ago, the institute gave it a name: Objexlab. With the addition Metal, research is now being done in the field of metal printing.

The current restrictions due to covid-19 threw a spanner in the works for a while. Because Fontys has moved most of its education to the Internet and is keeping its own premises closed for the time being, including Nexus, the building that houses Mechanical Engineering, the printer has been moved to Catalyst, a business center elsewhere on the TU/e site.

Intrinsic value

Fontys wants to focus more than in the past on 3D printing, including metal printing. In doing so, Fontys wants, as of old, to put itself at the service of especially the industry in and around Eindhoven, which has many high-tech companies. Van der Mast: "The exploration of the intrinsic value of metal printing is paramount. Can metal printing be used to produce more efficiently, can products be improved and can new business be created? We only conduct pre-competitive research that is always based on a research question. After all, there are already plenty of parties offering printing capacity on their metal printers, such as in this region K3D-AddFab." Also, Fontys has made metal printing part of one of its "minors," with about thirty students this year taking different studies and in groups gaining practical experience in calculating, and designing, preparing, printing and post-processing metal workpieces. 

Membership Flam3D

To increase its connection with the business community, Fontys has become a member of industry association Flam3D. Kris Binon, director Flam3D: "We create real added value by connecting the network. And that has a positive impact on the competitiveness of the region where we operate, the Netherlands and Flanders. 

First Renishaw

Never before has Renishaw placed a metal printer in the Netherlands. The English company has made a name for itself here primarily as a manufacturer of measuring instruments. Fontys now has an AM400. Philippe Reinders Folmer, director of Renishaw Benelux, says: "We are delighted that through Fontys the Dutch industry can learn about metal printing in combination with our machines. Renishaw has been strongly committed to metal printing for many years and great strides have been made in recent years."


Van der Mast: "To get a better grip on the quality of what we print, we recently purchased a 3D scanner from GOM, the ATOS Core. The GOM 3D scanner will be used, on the one hand, by students from Eindhoven to gain more insight into the quality of their prints. And on the other hand by the companies and students participating in Castlab. These will not only scan pieces to do measurements, but also to obtain digital twins, for which, for the sake of reverse engineering, we purchased 3D Systems Geomagic."

Moving to the BIC after summer

After the summer break, Fontys metal printing will be housed at the Brainport Industries Campus. They would like to collaborate with Summa College, to train operators, work preparers and post-processors with them. Of course, they would also like to collaborate with Additive Industries, K3D-AddFab, Additive Center and other initiatives in the region that are expressly manifesting themselves in the field of 3D printing. Cooperation with industry is crucial, so herewith the invitation to industry to participate."

Sources: Fontys press release, via Rein vd Mast