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What’s What In Metal 3D Printers

By Bill Koenig
Senior Editor
With 3D printing, metals are catching up to plastics.

More metals are being certified for use in metal 3D printers. Metal printers also are coming into play for industrial uses, particularly in aerospace and medical.

“As the metal additive manufacturing technologies become more affordable, reliable and abundant in the supply chain, companies can take advantage of the additional mechanical properties AM metals provide—thus ushering in the next wave of AM applications,” said Bill Macy, principal of Macy Consulting Inc. (St. Peters, MO).SLM

In December, General Electric began production of 3D printed fuel nozzle interiors at a plant in Auburn, AL. Airbus has conducted test flights of a plane with a 3D printed titanium bracket.

Macy said both metals and polymers will have their place in 3D printing while metals are providing more options for users of 3D printing equipment.

Some metal 3D printing machines attracting industry attention:

SLM 280HL from SLM Solutions: The selective laser melting system machine can be equipped two lasers. The company said the machine’s software “supports a production-oriented data preparation for specific applications and highly optimized building processes.”

The SLM 280HL can use material including stainless steel, took steel, cobalt-chromium, aluminum and titanium. It has a build chamber of 280 x 280 x 365 mm. The system is available in three models, with single optics (1x 400 W), dual optics (1x 400 W and 1x 1000 W) and twin optics (2x 400 W).

M2 cusing from Concept Laser: The machine is able to process aluminum and titanium alloys and is “suitable” for a three-shift operation, according to Concept Laser’s website.

It has a build envelope of 250 x 250 x 280 mm. The laser system is a fiber laser 200 W (cw), with an optional 400 W (cw). The company said its LaserCusing line of machines can produce automotive components.

EOS M 290 from EOS: The system produces components using direct metal laser sintering. Materials such as 15-5 Stainless Steel, CobaltChrome, Titanium Ti64 and NickelAlloy IN625 can produce complex geometries unachievable with conventional manufacturing methods.
Equipped with a 400-W fiber laser, the EOS M 290 has a build envelope of 250 x 250 x 325 mm.Renishaw
AM250 from Renishaw: Renishaw describes the AM250 as its flagship additive manufacturing machine.

It includes an external powder hopper with valve interlocks to permit additional material to be added while a process is running. Renishaw said on its website that multiple materials “can be interchanged on the AM250 platform with relative ease.”

A variety of titanium, nickel, stainless steel and cobalt chrome alloys can be used with the AM250. It has a build volume of 250 x 250 x 300 mm.

LENS 850-R from Optomec: The machine comes with a “hermetically sealed Class 1 laser enclosure” and a five-axis CNC control system, according to the company’s website. Optomec said “core applications” include component repair and hybrid manufacturing, where both additive and traditional subtractive manufacturing can be done on the same machine.

LENS 850-R can use metals such as titanium, tool steel, aluminum, nickel, cobalt and stainless steel. The machine’s work envelope is 900 x 1500 x 900 mm. The system uses a laser (500 W to 4 kW) to use powered metals into parts.

A2X and Q10 from Arcam: Arcam makes electron beam melting additive manufacturing systems.

The A2X is designed to process titanium alloys and Inconel, “which makes it suited for both productions and materials R&D,” according to Arcam’s website. It has a build envelop of 200 x 200 x 380 mm. The A2X has beam power of 50–3000 W. The machine “is designed for production of any functional part within aerospace and general industry,” Arcam said on its website.

The Q10 is designed for industrial output of orthopedic implants, according to the company. It replaces the Arcam A1 system. It has a maximum build size of 200 x 200 x 180 mm and maximum beam power of 3000 W. 

Published Date : 4/22/2016

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