nLIGHT launches programmable laser for metal additive manufacturing

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nLIGHT has introduced the AFX-1000 for the metal additive manufacturing market. Leveraging innovative programmable laser technology, the AFX-1000 is a high-power fibre laser that can switch between a single-mode beam and other beam profiles without the use of free space optics.

“The AFX-1000 is the world’s first single-mode fibre laser with the beam shaping function performed entirely inside the laser.  Developed for additive manufacturing, AFX enables OEMs and end-users to significantly improve build rates, thereby reducing cost per part,” said Rob Martinsen, nLIGHT CTO and general manager for Additive Manufacturing.  “We expect AFX to fundamentally change the economics of AM and promote broader adoption for series production.”

The AFX ring mode geometry stabilizes large melt pools, reducing the amount of soot and spatter to improve material quality and production yields.  Discrete AFX beam profiles can be selected on-the-fly as quickly as 30 times per second, offering new degrees of freedom to control melting and solidification rates, physical microstructure and thermal strain that can lead to stress fractures, a frequent cause of part failure.  Ring mode processing with a single AFX laser has been shown to produce “fully dense” material (>99.5%) at build rates exceeding 100 cm3/hr with a single laser.

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