Additive firms target serial production with metal 3D printers wielding 10+ lasers
Two additive manufacturing firms have unveiled new metal 3D printers wielding at least ten 1kW lasers, intended for serial production.
SLM Solutions has commercially released the NXG XII 600, which is equipped with twelve 1kW lasers, while Additive Industries has announced its development of the MetalFAB-600 – expected towards the end of 2021 – which will operate using ten 1kW lasers.
The NXG XII 600
The twelve lasers of SLM Solutions’ machine will operate simultaneously over a square build envelope of 600 x 600 x 600mm. Claimed by SLM Solutions to be the fastest machine on the market, the system operates up to 20 times faster than its single-laser system and up to five times faster than its four-laser system. It is designed to be used in serial production for high-volume applications as well as for printing large parts, which is expected to open up new applications in the automotive and aerospace industries.
The new machine features a new optic system – the most compact on the market, according to SLM Solutions – which enables large overlap and is based on a tailor-made laser scanning system to best fit the build area. All twelve optics provide spot size definition via a double lens system called ‘zoom function’, which enables customers to choose between different spot sizes in the focal plane. The system will be able to offer deposition rates of up to 1,000cm3/h and more.
To facilitate the integration of the NXG XII 600 into factories and supply chains, several automated features including an automatic build cylinder exchange, automatic build start as well as an external preheating station and external depowder station, are part of the solution.
‘Up until now, the limit had been considered to be that of a quad laser system,’ said Sam O’Leary, COO at SLM Solutions. ‘What we deliver here with 12kW of installed laser power is truly ground-breaking and a major step forward, not just for additive manufacturing, but for manufacturing in general.’
Once released the MetalFAB-600 will offer a slightly larger build envelope of 600 x 600 x 1,000mm, while also being able to offer a deposition rate of up to 1,000cm3/h with its ten 1kW lasers. It will be developed on a platform that allows for even further expansion of the build volume and productivity in the future. The system’s powder handling, alignments, and calibrations will all be automated to ensure the highest possible output.
A visual representation of the MetalFAB-600, expected towards the end of 2021. (Image: Additive Industries)
Jonas Wintermans, co-founder of the company, remarked: ‘A larger build volume opens doors to more applications and more productivity. Larger build jobs also mean a need for higher laser power and maximum robustness, because users want their parts to reach the finish line when printing multiple day jobs.’