Purmundus Challenge 2020: Virtual Ceremony for Real Innovations  

Anyone who regularly visits Formnext in Frankfurt cannot miss one of the most important global awards in the design industry – the Purmundus Challenge. This annual international competition honors the most exciting design innovations and trends in 3D and 4D printing. For the 2020 challenge, featuring the motto “Geometry and Material in Harmony,” the jury selected 35 finalists and seven winners from the innovative entries. All winners received their awards during Digital Formnext Connect 2020 on November 11.

For the last three years, Altair has supported this competition of ideas and innovation with our simulation expertise and a dedicated category and award focused on “Simulation-Driven Design.” The winner of this category was “BOLT-IT – Automated Post-Processing for Metal Additive Manufacturing,” an R&D collaboration between Inspire AG, ETH Zurich, and Gressel Spanntechnik from Switzerland. Winning this award means more than just professional recognition. It includes a one-year license of Altair Units for all products in the Concept Engineer Suite.

Altair has always had a focus on structural optimization, providing software to create solutions that are load- and weight-optimized as well as easily manufacturable. When it comes to 3D-printing structural optimized components, however, support structures cannot always be avoided because not every design can include clamping surfaces. Still, re-clamping is a tedious task and often makes the component uneconomical.

BOLT-IT solves a problem that almost all metal powder bed structures have in common

In successful cooperation, Inspire AG, ETH Zurich, and Gressel created an innovative solution to the problem of cumbersome and expensive clamping with BOLT-IT. The BOLT-IT concepts enable an automated physical and digital post-process chain. BOLT-IT has universal interfaces, produced within the additive manufacturing (AM) process, enabling automated gripping and handling of the AM part. As the part position is known from the CAD, there is no need for referencing. The advantage is that the bolts always look the same regardless of the workpiece geometry, thus providing a universal handling interface. Also, the robust clamping concept allows robust machining with accessibility from five sides. A simple torsion removal of the interfaces completes the process.

This technology allows the precise, reliable, and economical clamping of a wide variety of workpieces. A major benefit is the efficient use of resources, as the so-called clamping losses no longer occur. The new clamping technology is particularly interesting for automation since using a universal gripper in robot-supported part production simplifies workpiece handling and is more cost-efficient.

Inspire AG, ETH Zürich, and Gressel have demonstrated great innovative power in solving this manufacturing problem and have presented a pioneering new method for clamping technology. This idea gives a further boost to the industrial application of AM.

The BOLT-IT project was headed by Julian Ferchow (Research Associate at Inspire AG, ETH Zurich) and Marcel Schlüssel (Head of Technology at Gressel). For more information about BOLT-IT, click here.

Altair congratulates all winners of the 2020 Purmundus Challenge.