15 July, 2024

Motion control systems driving innovation in additive manufacturing

17 June, 2024

Additive manufacturing is disrupting the manufacturing paradigm by fundamentally altering the traditional subtractive process of material removal. Instead of cutting, drilling, moulding or machining raw materials, additive manufacturing builds objects layer by layer, directly from digital designs. This approach reduces waste, allows for complex geometries impossible with traditional methods, accelerates prototyping, and customises production, revolutionising industries by enabling rapid, efficient, and on-demand creation of intricate parts and products. Bill Hennessey, President, ALIO Industries explains further.


As additive manufacturing evolves into a production technology, precision and repeatability become increasingly crucial factors. In prototyping, minor deviations might be acceptable, but in production, consistency and accuracy are paramount. Precise layer-by-layer material deposition ensures that complex geometries are faithfully reproduced, meeting stringent design specifications. Moreover, as industries like aerospace, medical devices, and automotive rely on additive manufacturing for end-use parts, components must meet tight tolerances to ensure safety, performance, and compatibility within larger systems.

Repeatability guarantees that each part manufactured is virtually indistinguishable from the next, essential for assembly line integration and quality control. This consistency minimises errors, reduces waste, and streamlines production processes. As additive manufacturing gains traction in fields with high-volume manufacturing demands, such as consumer goods and electronics, the ability to consistently replicate intricate and intricate structures amplifies the technology’s viability as a reliable alternative to traditional manufacturing methods.

The role of motion control

Ultra-precise motion control systems are integral components within additive manufacturing machines, playing a critical role in achieving the high levels of precision required for producing complex and functional end-use parts. These systems govern the movement of print heads, build platforms, and other critical components with microscopic accuracy, ensuring that material deposition is exact and consistent across each layer of the printed object. By tightly controlling movements and positions, these systems minimise deviations and errors that could compromise the final product’s quality.

In additive manufacturing, precision is essential to create intricate structures, maintain fine tolerances, and achieve optimal surface finishes. Ultra-precise motion control systems contribute to precision by facilitating intricate adjustments, enabling rapid changes in direction and speed, and dynamically responding to real-time feedback from sensors. These systems eliminate the potential for vibrations, oscillations, or jitters that might degrade print quality. Furthermore, they enable additive manufacturing machines to compensate for variations in material properties, environmental conditions, and other factors that could impact the outcome of the printing process.

The seamless coordination of ultra-precise motion control systems with other critical components, such as advanced sensors and real-time monitoring, ensures that each layer of material is deposited with exceptional precision, resulting in complex geometries, functional prototypes, and end-use parts that meet the stringent requirements of industries embracing additive manufacturing for production purposes.

The motion control relationship

An additive manufacturing machine manufacturer relies heavily on their motion control technology supplier to deliver a range of critical components and capabilities. First and foremost, precision is paramount. The supplier must offer motion control systems capable of nanometer-level precision to ensure that intricate layers of material are deposited with impeccable precision, allowing the creation of complex geometries and intricate details that meet exacting design specifications. This precision guarantees the production of high-quality end-use parts.




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