Additive Manufacturing


VDMA Working Group Additive Manufacturing launches OPC UA activity

OPC UA for Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing is a young, successful manufacturing process that is often used as a supplement to subtractive manufacturing. Good networking of the additive manufacturing process chain is an important prerequisite for successful use of the process, which is why the initiative to use the OPC UA interface for AM was launched in the Additive Manufacturing Working Group in the VDMA and has been worked on by a core team since May 2020.

This core team includes:

  • Arcam
  • ABConcept
  • Laser GmbH
  • GE Additive
  • ExOne GmbH
  • Fraunhofer IGCV
  • Materialise nv
  • Siemens AG
  • Toolcraft AG
  • 3D Systems GmbH
  • EOS
  • Hewlett Packard
  • SLM Solutions Group AG

AM equipment manufacturers with different processes, integrators and users are represented in the OPC UA for AM working group. The combination of the additive process chain with subtractive manufacturing processes results in a multitude of possible operating states and process flows. In addition to mapping simple operating states, AM-specific job sequences and closely linked processes such as material supply or part identification are of great importance.

Further information on Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing as an industrial production process is relatively new - the process itself was only developed 30 years ago. In the meantime, "additive manufacturing" is enjoying a great deal of attention in many branches of mechanical engineering and other industries.

Different processes and a variety of materials are used. For industrial use, powder bedding processes with laser or e-beam (SLS, LBM, EBM) energy sources are very well known. Both plastics and metallic materials are used here. Thermoplastics and differently filled plastics are used in extrusion processes (FDM). Powder bedding is combined with the application of binders in BinderJetting (BJ) and enables large-volume components made of sand, metal or plastic powders. Another process makes use of the cross-linking of polymers under UV radiation - targeted radiation in the liquid volume (STL) or curing of specifically applied photopolymers (PJ) allow high resolution and good surfaces of components. Also of great importance are deposition processes in which powder or wire-based metallic materials are fused with an existing component surface in various ways (DED, WAM, etc.).

AM systems are not only used for prototyping or spare parts production, but increasingly also in industrial series production. Depending on the process and application, upstream steps such as material preparation and data preparation as well as downstream process steps are of great importance. The post-process often means a comparable effort as the actual construction process, where uncovering of the component, cleaning, heat treatment, finishing etc. take place. The networking of these process steps is an important prerequisite for automated, industrial production.

Thus, for the networking standard of the equipment involved in the AM process, all participants in the process chain are important.