Here's a sampling of the technology that's been highlighted in the Additive Manufacturing supplement in 2014.
Developed jointly with the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology, Concept Laser’s X line 1000R laser melting system is designed for the manufacture of large, functional components and technical prototypes. Offering a build envelope of 630 × 400 × 500 mm, the machine's key component is a high-performance, 1,000-W laser that the company says enables increased productivity over other laser melting systems.
The SonicLayer 4000 from Fabrisonic LLC features the company’s patented ultrasonic additive manufacturing (UAM) technology, which uses sound to weld together metals into solid three-dimensional shapes. Because the UAM process uses solid state welding, it lends itself to welding dissimilar metals, including aluminum, copper, stainless steel and titanium. And, unlike a metal fusion process, UAM avoids brittle inter-metallics that form during the combination of two or more metals, the company says.
Arburg’s Freeformer machine is designed to convert plastic granulate into individual plastic parts through additive manufacturing. Using the Arburg Plastic Freeforming (AKF) process, 3D CAD files are processed directly, standard plastic granulate is melted, droplets are generated from the liquid melt, and a fully functional component is built up from these droplets, layer by layer.
EOS’s M 290 direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) system, the successor to its EOSINT M 280, is designed for the production of serial components, spare parts and prototypes. In addition to a build volume of 250 × 250 × 325 mm (9.8" × 9.8" × 12.8"), the M 290 offers monitoring functions for both the system itself and for the build process.
3D Systems’ ProX 950 stereolithography printer is equipped with its PolyRay print head technology, designed to manufacture parts as much as 10 times faster than other 3D printers. Those parts can range in size from extremely small to large without compromising feature details or true-to-CAD accuracy, the company says. The large-format, “fab-grade” printer also is said to offer high total material usage for reduced part cost over competitive alternatives.
The Lumex Avance-25 from MC Machinery Systems and Matsuura Machinery Corp. combines metal laser sintering technology with high-speed milling technology to produce complex parts using digital engineering and 3D data. Metal powders are melted and sintered via laser, while surfaces are precisely milled at high speeds.
Renishaw has introduced an add-on kit for its AM250 3D printer designed to meet demand for cleaner process environments, improved surface finish and precision. The PlusPac upgrade includes optical control software, a gas knife lens window protection system and a high-capacity filtration system. These updates are said to provide tighter control over the build process, resulting in improved components.
DMG MORI’s Lasertec 65 hybrid manufacturing machine combines additive and subtractive processes to produce a complete part from powder. Rather than powder bed technology, the machine uses a powder spray technique that deposits material at 10× to 40× rates. It then uses conventional milling/turning processes to remove material from unwanted areas.
Cincinnati Inc.’s Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) system uses the chassis, drives and control of the company’s laser cutting system as the base, and extrudes hot thermoplastic to build parts, layer by layer. The machine was developed as part of a cooperative R&D agreement between the company and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). With a work envelope of 2 × 4 × 0.87 m (6.6 × 13.1 × 2.9 ft.) and extrusion rate of about 38 lbs/hr., the BAAM system can print polymer components as much as 10 times larger than currently producible, at speeds 200 to 500 times faster than other additive machines, Cincinnati Inc. says.
EnvisionTEC’s Xede 3SP large-format 3D printer uses the company’s scan, spin and selectively photocure (3SP) technology to quickly produce accurate parts from STL files, regardless of geometric complexity. According to the company, the surface quality of the printed parts shows no signs of stairstepping on the inner and outer surfaces.
Fonon Technologies’ 3D Fusion system uses a high-powered laser to fuse together metal nanopowders, layer by layer, to form functional 3D parts. The direct metal laser sintering process takes place in a tightly controlled vacuum or inert gas process atmosphere, which is said to be particularly necessary for titanium and some other oxygen-sensitive metals. Once complete, the part undergoes post processing, including heat treatment, surface finishing and coating, per part design specification.
Both copper and graphite provide approximately the same end result, so it is important for a shop to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each material in order to discover what would work best in their shopfloor environment.