A COUNTY Limerick firm is aiming to streamline the use of 3D printing in manufacturing settings and increase its overall usage in industry.
For a number of years, 3D or additive manufacturing has been used in research and development settings with little integration into mainstream manufacturing.
However, Addihive, which is based at the Croom Enterprise Centre, is working on technological solutions to revolutionise current manufacturing practice.
Addihive Research and Development manager Patrick Byrnes said that the County Limerick firm was established to address the constraints that a lot of the equipment being supplied at the moment is more suited to an R&D setting than a manufacturing environment.
The Limerick firm is addressing this specific issue so as to fully reach the potential that complex devices with multiple moving parts like artificial heart valves or prosthetics can be made in a single process with no further assembly required.
Addihive is enabling 3D manufacturing solutions for the highly-regulated aerospace and medical device industries through market-leading innovative solutions and, according to Patrick Byrnes, they have developed the technology to make the production of metallic items safer.
One of these challenges arises in the sphere of health and safety. “When you are moving metallic particles around at high velocity in a confined space it is like a grain silo and particles can ignite,” he says.
There are also issues with material handling and wastage. The metals involved are very high value and even more losses can be very costly. Furthermore, with individual additive manufacturing machines costing up to €1 million each, efficiency is at a premium.
“Our mission is to streamline, complement and scale the additive process with our customer base through the implementation of proprietary technology and market-leading solutions,” he explained.
With three engineers, Addihive has been in operation since January 2017 and has been shortlisted in the Irish Times Innovation awards with the winners announced on November 20.
The Limerick firm has seen an increase in the uptake of their solutions as their technology makes the 3D manufacturing process quicker, cheaper, cleaner and safer.