Trumpf facilitates printing of large copper components

Laser manufacturer Trumpf has equipped its largest 3D printer, the TruPrint 5000, with a green laser in order to facilitate the processing of larger copper components.

Unveiled at the firm’s booth at Formnext this year, the firm claims the upgraded printer can now print copper “as easily as common 3D printing materials such as stainless steel”.

Green lasers are well suited to processing copper due to the wavelength exhibiting around 40 per cent absorption into the material at room temperature, compared to the 5 per cent absorption exhibited by infrared lasers. 

"The green laser is crucial for processing copper,” confirmed Roland Spiegelhalder, Product Manager at Trumpf. “With the TruPrint 5000 Green Edition, we are responding to the demand for systems with larger installation space for the production of copper components such as components for electric motors or heat exchangers." 

The system’s high repeatability and energy efficiency make it well suited to producing such components in series production, Spiegelhalder added.

At Formnext the firm was also promoting the TruPrint 5000 for hybrid production – using additive manufacturing to complement other manufacturing processes. For example, users can print special functions such as cooling channels onto milled or cast components. In the large installation space of the system, maintenance technicians can also repair turbine blades of engines additively.

"For this, the system has to work particularly precisely,” said Spiegelhalder. “This is made possible by our Preform function, which is based on a sophisticated camera system.” 

Trumpf introduced the capabilities of the new TruPrint 5000 Green Edition at Formnext this year.

Trumpf’s research into the gas flow within the system and exposure strategy of its laser technology has enabled the firm to maximise the repeatability of the TruPrint 5000. "The system is so sophisticated that there is no difference between machine A and machine B if they are to produce the same component," said Spiegelhalder. 

Also available in a fibre laser format, the TruPrint 5000 can be equipped with three fibre lasers to produce standard alloy metal components even faster. "This multilaser principle can be compared to handwriting not only with one pencil, but with several at the same time," said Spiegelhalder. 

A range of copper parts can be printed with the new system, including gas coolers, fluid mixers, semiconductor coolers, shaft inductors and heat exchangers.

However, it is a major challenge to ensure that all the lasers in the system work accurately within a few micrometres. The lasers must be perfectly calibrated. To make this possible, Trumpf has developed the Automatic Multilaser Alignment system. The lasers automatically measure themselves during the construction job at a freely selectable interval and correct their position independently. "This ensures very high accuracy and saves time because the user no longer has to interrupt the construction job for up to an hour for the measurement. The aerospace industry in particular, with its high quality requirements, benefits from this," said Spiegelhalder. This function also allows the TruPrint 5000 to measure and recalibrate itself before and after each build job. It is no longer necessary for a service technician from Trumpf to come to the machine to do this.

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