Our 25th anniversary had to fall in the Corona year. Nevertheless, we celebrate this milestone of FIT – as well as additive manufacturing – with an online campaign that reflects the state of the art and the latest achievements of FIT. For our customers, we summarized our expertise in a must-have innovation guide. The 25th year is also marked by groundbreaking innovations. We are pushing ahead with in-house quality assurance in post-processing by high-tech HPHT (HIP) and Hirtisation processes. Furthermore, we are making a significant impact by introducing the completely new SCA manufacturing process for free-form architectural parts, which is put into operation in a newly erected production on the FIT campus.
FIT's claim as AM-Guide is based on its technological leadership. We are regularly first adopters worldwide for innovative AM technologies, which we practically test and validate in the context of industrial additive production. The central question here is: To what extent do they offer our customers significant added value to our existing process spectrum? The current new addition to our technology portfolio is a plant for cold welding of SPEE3D. In the area of post-processing, we are investing in a Quintus HIP system for heat treatment and in herding to improve the quality of the 3D printed components.
As a result of the ongoing technological advances, our first production hall, which is the first in the world to specialize entirely in additive manufacturing processes, is rapidly becoming too small. The commissioning of the second factory building with a production area of about 4,500 m² and an investment volume of EUR 16.6 m considerably extends our AM Campus. Our customers benefit from these high capacities by adherence to delivery dates and the fast fulfilment of large order volumes. At the same time the company-owned Boarding House with 48 apartments will be opened. This is a special offer for employees who have further access routes as well as for customers and partners of FIT.
Additive production with the established processes selective laser sintering (SLS or Laser Powder Bed Fusion PBF-LB/P) for plastics as well as laser melting (LM or Laser Powder Bed Fusion PBF-LB/P) and electron beam melting (EBM or Electron Beam Powder Bed Fusion PBF-EB/M) for metal runs stable with high capacities. Therefore, FIT is now adding innovative new processes to its portfolio, whose advantages lie in large formats and significantly higher build-up rates. A total of EUR 16.6 million will be invested in the further development of the company. FIT is the first user to introduce GEFERTEC's WAAM 5-axis build-up welding process for large metal parts. The counterpart in the plastics sector is the new GDP system from Massivit. At the same time, the new administration building with workplaces for over 200 employees, the so-called "FIT tower", is put into operation.
FIT AG is investing EUR 11.4 million in the world's first factory specifically designed for additive production, which will enable us to raise additive production to industrial scale. The FIT Factory is unique worldwide in terms of production capacity and automation technology. An entire floor is dedicated to the additives production of metal parts, so that FIT currently has the largest capacities in the metal sector. Another floor is dedicated to the additive production of plastic parts. At the same time FIT is awarded the business prize "Bayerns Best 50".
FIT commissions the world's first high-performance systems with 4 laser cannons from SLM Solutions. This represents a breakthrough for our customers, as it significantly increases assembly rates and production speed and significantly boosts productivity. These systems are particularly suitable for industrial use and are an important hardware requirement for the additive serial production of metal parts, which is attracting rapidly increasing interest in the market.
In order to meet the requirements of a centrally organized and automated additive manufacturing with a wide variety of 3D printers, FIT quickly created its own 3D software with netfabb, as there was no ready-made solution on the market. Originally designed to control an extensive range of machinery, netfabb has quickly developed into a powerful, world-leading software for modelling (design, simulation and repair) of 3D models. Netfabb is widely used both by customers and in-house, and provides professional, printable data models that help to avoid an enormous amount of rework.
The first EBM system for titanium is put into operation. Titanium is a material that is difficult to process using conventional methods, but is ideally suited for tool-free production. This opens up completely new areas of application for the company in the medical technology/implantology and aerospace sectors. Certification according to EN ISO 13485 will be achieved after a 3-year validation phase, followed by FDA compliance.
Rapid Tooling is successfully introduced at FIT. Tools for injection molding and elastomer production are designed by us and manufactured in a combined hybrid design using milling and laser melting (LM or Laser Powder Bed Fusion pbf-lb/m) from steel or aluminum. With the help of these prototype or small series tools, the actual final plastic components are manufactured in a next step using conventional injection molding or elastomer processes in complex geometric shapes. This combined production method has the advantage that even larger series with increased component complexity can be produced at attractive unit prices.
After first steps with paper lamination, FIT enters the core business of additive manufacturing with laser sintering of PA materials. Carl Fruth quickly recognized the potential of this revolutionary process, because the geometric freedom of tool-free production in the powder bed makes completely new products possible. The limits of traditional manufacturing methods can be overcome, as undercuts or internal cavities, for example, can now be produced using additives without any further ado. In addition, a wide range of post-processing options are available, so that the process offers immense flexibility for many applications in the field of rapid prototyping, but also for (small) serial production.
The zero hour of FIT strikes in the garage of Carl Fruth. Founded as "Fruth Innovative Technologies", FIT is one of the first service offices worldwide to focus on rapid prototyping with the innovative technologies of 3D printing. With the necessary technical background, entrepreneurial vision, and a pronounced preference for thinking things differently, Carl Fruth laid the foundation for FIT's success story, which has set itself the goal of creating better products for a better future.