On the 5th of May, rpm (rapid product manufacturing GmbH) was founded with two new SLS machines to begin producing prototypes and small series parts for German OEMs and their tier supplier network. Now, exactly 23 years later on the 5th of May 2020, rpm installed two new Farsoon Polymer Laser Sintering Machines with a focus on adding speed and capacity to their AM production floor. rpm is perfecting a pathway from prototype to small series parts (10,000 units) with a complete portfolio of in-house, plastic technologies.
Production Portfolio from Prototype to Series
Within plastic manufacturing, rpm has built a portfolio of production technologies that allows them to seamlessly select the best manufacturing method for each part request. This wide palette provides a “solution from one hand.” But perhaps more importantly, rpm’s customers receive the production method that fits best for each need, not the only method that is available. The quality of their output has built up a lasting trust, particularly in the German automotive sector.
Now, exactly twenty-three years after the company was founded, rpm is stepping into their next stage with the addition of two, new Farsoon SLS machines. The SS403 will be used for stable, rapid production of series parts for direct use applications and faster prototype iterations. The HT403 adds high temperature shielding and thermal controls which is particularly important for high-performance materials for the automotive and logistics industries. Sintered parts continue to be an important component of both prototyping and small series production. With the new machines, rpm will increase both their production speed and total in-house SLS capacity. In addition, they will be keeping some of their older machines to produce parts with special material blends and not interfere with their daily production chain. The older machines will also be responsible to produce models and cores for their plastic casting operations.
“When we started rpm in 1997 we were focused almost exclusively on rapid product development using additive and other production methods. Over the years, we have moved further down the production chain so that now rpm is a single contact point for bringing plastic parts from idea to reality. As soon as they are online and calibrated, the new Farsoon machines will begin printing small series parts.”
Dr. Jörg Gerken,
Technical Director, rpm
In 2019, rpm also invested in bringing the Carbon DLS technology into their production as it provides a good offset to SLS parts. DLS also has an interesting set of materials that are pre-qualified for medical and transportation applications that help rpm bring their experience into a wider set of industries. DLS also offer particular benefits in terms of directly printing surface textures, industrial grade materials and uni-directional layer structure.
As part demand scales, rpm can seamless transition in-house from additive manufacturing to other technologies that are suited for small scale production, with a focus on 1 to 10,000 units.
An Investment into Farsoon Machines
Rpm has been in contact with Farsoon Europe for more than a year to ensure that the technology would provide the solution that is needed to deliver parts faster and with higher quality to customers. The results from surface quality tests, the production speed and the larger build chamber help ensure reliable output and higher throughput for production. For rpm, it was also important that Farsoon machines offer a high level of flexibility in adjusting parameters, selecting and mixing powders and controlling production. Particularly for the prototyping business, this helps to ensure that rpm can deliver top quality parts to customers. The choice of Farsoon Europe to bring Dirk Simon (from BASF New Business GmbH) as the managing director also sends positive signals that materials will become an important part of their portfolio. The past three years have also seen a strong increase of presence in Europe and the United States to ensure service and support for customers like rpm, who strongly depend on reliability and local service operations from manufacturer.
We see this investment as an important addition to our technology portfolio. The new Farsoon machines help us to stay at the front edge of speed, surface quality and build volume. At the end of the day, it is about getting our customers better parts faster and cheaper – and that is exactly what the Farsoon investment enables.”
Dr. Claus Thomy,
Business Director, rpm
Donation of Older Machines to Laser Center of Hannover
Two of the older AM machines which are now replaced will be donated to the Laser Center in Hannover (LZH e.V.) where the machines will be used for training and replacement parts for older machines. In some ways, this is closing the circle as the two founding partners, Dr. Jörg Gerken and Dr. Klaus Kreutzburg both learned and trained at the LZH in the 1990s. Now the machines that helped them launch rpm are returning to the Laser Center to be used by the next generation of additive manufacturing engineers.