3D printing with metals is affecting the way manufacturing occurs, and Australian distributor Raymax Applications reckons this is amply demonstrated by the application of SLM Solutions machines in metal manufacturing processes.
SLM Solutions Group recently released its fourth generation 280 system, the technologically advanced SLM 280 2.0, which is available with a choice of laser configurations. Users can choose between single optics (400 or 700W), dual optics (700 and 1000W) and twin optics for increased build speed (2 x 400 or 2 x 700W), the latter offering up to 80% higher build rate depending on how the component parts are arranged.
While increasing the speed at which the machine scans the powder bed greatly improves build time, SLM Solutions has also put a good deal of effort into improving the gas flow in this new system, developing sintering side plates in the build chamber that diffuse the flow of gas, avoiding turbulence and safeguarding an even quantity of powder disbursement improving quality.
The new SLM 280 2.0 system has recently been installed at Italian precision engineering company Zare to use in the manufacture of aerospace components. Zare has been working in rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing since 2009 and is implementing the SLM system to get a larger vertical space allowing benefits of better alignment, reduction in required support elements along with achieving a reduction in the tension inside the component part.
The 280 x 280 x 365mm build chamber of the SLM 280 2.0 supports the company’s development and testing of parts for Airbus using specified metal powders, an area Zare will be adding to its already busy post-processing services, finishing of prototypes and preparation of dental and medical models.
The manufacture of parts using 3D laser systems is certainly seen as providing a key solution to parts storage for vehicle manufacturers. Already prominent car brands are using SLM 3D printing systems to manufacture parts, and with the expansion of the Industry 4.0 concept, many expect that the high cost of part storage will be replaced by on-site on-demand 3D printing.
One car company is taking the use of 3D printing even further, challenging the very way cars are manufactured, reducing costs and accelerating the production of road vehicles. SLM Solutions is partnering with Divergent 3D towards achieving this end. The two companies are working closely together to develop specific hardware and software designed to deliver strong, lightweight parts.
The founder and CEO of Divergent 3D, Kevin Czinger believes it is possible to transform the way vehicles are designed, engineered, manufactured and assembled and has already ‘printed’ a 3D chassis. This is a paradigm shift from simply printing parts to printing the overall structure of a vehicle.
Additive manufacturing is providing the opportunity to transform economics, to reduce environmental impacts and to improve design and manufacture of complex structures such as the car we drive everyday on our roads, highways and autobahns.
Already we are seeing examples of improvements in aerospace parts demonstrated by GE’s manufacture of a fuel nozzle that took 19 parts, each required to be individually joined and designed and made one part using 3D printing technology. This success has lead GE to buy its own 3D laser system company as it continues to expand design and development of parts across a range of manufactured items.
Leading the charge is SLM Solutions laser systems. At formnext 2017 the company presented the SLM 800 that is now opening doors for major manufacturers. Currently underway is the development of a 600 x 600mm SLM Cube machine with a minimum of 12 lasers, that is on track for release by the end on 2019.
Machine capacity and capability continues to improve as SLM Solutions learns from end users, from industry demand and from the findings of research, testing, design and development in the partnerships the company has formed.
It is evident manufacturing is changing, 3D printing technology is interrupting traditional processes, but results that reduce costs, reduce impact on the environment and improve the end product are surely worth embracing.
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