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Laser metal AM on display at Formnext trade fair

Companies will be presenting new laser additive manufacturing (AM) equipment at the Formnext trade fair, to be held in Frankfurt, Germany from 17 to 20 November. Trumpf will be showing laser metal fusion and laser metal deposition systems, while Concept Laser will focus on intelligent networking of machines and automation under the motto ‘AM factory of tomorrow’.

Trumpf has established a new division for additive manufacturing at its headquarters in Ditzingen, Germany and has been working with Italian laser system maker, Sisma, on AM technology.

‘The introduction of these new 3D printers is an essential first step, since additive manufacturing will not only supplement production techniques in the future, but will also exert a formative influence on them,’ commented Dr Peter Leibinger, head of Trumpf Laser- und Systemtechnik. ‘We will be offering rugged and highly productive machinery with which small and medium-sized parts incorporating complex structures can be manufactured,’ he said.

Laser metal fusion (LMF) generates parts layer by layer in a bed of powder, while in laser metal deposition the laser creates a melted pool on the surface of a part and fuses the powder as it is added in a powder stream.

Trumpf’s TruPrint 1000 LMF machine, to be shown at Formnext, can generate parts 100 x 100mm, fusing the powder layers with a 200W laser. The supply cylinder provides capacity for up to 1.4 litres of stainless steel, tool steel, aluminium or another weldable material in powdered form. Trumpf will also unveil a prototype of the TruPrint 3000, a larger model able to build parts measuring up to 400 x 300mm.

Concept Laser will be showing a new machine concept at Formnext with the emphasis on the digital aspect of 3D printing. Concept Laser bases its AM technology on its LaserCusing process.

Frank Herzog, CEO of Concept Laser, commented: ‘Build rates have increased enormously with multi-laser technology. The build envelope sizes have increased remarkably. Now, we intend to use an integrated system concept to show what possibilities exist for "Industry 4.0" approaches to change additive manufacturing as the production strategy for the future. There is a whole host of potential for boosting flexibility and the created value.’

Concept Laser aims to offer digital networking of systems and automation of processes. The company's machine concept includes flexible machine loading, and spatial separation of the setup and dismantling procedures.

EOS and Renishaw will also display new technology at the show. EOS will introduce the M 100, a system for direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), a melt pool monitoring system, and new metal powders.

EOS's process monitoring and analysis system, called Eostate MeltPool Monitoring, is an add-on to the EOS M 290 DMLS system. The tool offers complete part traceability as well as automated surveillance and analysis of the melt pool during the DMLS build process.

Dr Tobias Abeln, chief technology officer at EOS, stated: ‘We developed this powerful, intelligent monitoring solution jointly with Plasmo Industrietechnik, a global supplier of automated, high technology quality assurance systems.

‘Our goal is to set a benchmark for high-end, in-process monitoring for AM. With Eostate MeltPool Monitoring, we offer a powerful, expert tool to those who need to improve their quality assurance procedures during AM and who want to build up deep insights into the DMLS process to, for example, support further process development.’

The monitoring solution observes the light emitted by the melt pool. The key elements are a pair of photodiodes located on- and off-axis, a camera adapter, a specialised signal amplifier and spectral filters to separate process light from reflected laser light. The associated software offers automatic data error correction and real-time process visualisation and evaluation.

Renishaw will show the RenAM 500M system based on metal powder fusion technology. The machine offers dynamic focussing, automated powder sieving and recirculation, 500W ytterbium fibre laser, and a high capacity dual filter SafeChange system.

The company will also launch the AM400 flexible metal additive manufacturing system with a 400W optical system that gives a reduced laser beam diameter of 70µm.

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