Arevo Labs (Santa Clara, CA, US) has introduced a scalable robot-based additive manufacturing (RAM) platform for fabricating 3D-printed composite parts. It consists of a standard commercially available robot, composite deposition end-effector hardware and a comprehensive software suite. Arevo’s solution is tailored to ABB’s smallest 6-axis robot, the IRB 120, though the scalable software can support larger ABB robot models and sizes. The additive end-effector hardware consists of a deposition head with advanced thermal management technology for processing high-performance, carbon fiber-reinforced filaments (continuous or chopped) with a thermoplastic resin matrix. Thermoplastics available include polyaryletherketone (PAEK) and polyetheretherketone (PEEK). Carbon fiber is 55% by weight. Chopped carbon fiber is standard grade; continuous carbon fiber is aerospace grade.
The software includes:
- CAM software to convert CAD models to a set of additive deposition instructions for the robot. Software is capable of six degrees of freedom, reportedly enabling true 3D additive manufacturing.
- A kinematics simulator interprets deposition instructions to validate and optimize part construction.
Arevo Labs’ RAM Platform interfaces with ABB’s RobotStudio programming and simulation software to ease tool path generation from CAD files. Arevo Labs says the platform’s multiaxis toolpaths enable, for the first time, production-quality parts constructed with true 3D surfaces in variable orientations. The resulting parts have strength and aesthetics reportedly superior to those made with conventional Cartesian-based additive manufacturing equipment and software.
Further, the RAM is said to maximize size scalability and production efficiency. Key enabling technologies include automation and secondary process integration within manufacturing work cells. Depending upon the size of the robot, the part build envelope is scalable from 1,000 mm3 to 8m3.
Arevo Labs video on RAM technology.