First Concept Laser M Line Factory Systems to Roll Out in Q2 2019 

Modular system architecture with automation supports scalable serial production.

Modular system architecture with automation supports scalable serial production.

GE Additive has announced that its first Concept Laser M Line Factory systems will be delivered to customers in Q2 2019. The M LINE FACTORY’s design architecture, system and software have undergone extensive review and redesign in line with established GE processes and beta testing with selected customers. 

The M Line Factory’s modular machine architecture offers automation and reliability, which drives economical, scalable series production on an industrial scale. 

Modular Architecture with Full Automation

During detailed rig testing and lifetime testing, a number of areas were identified for improvement and have since been incorporated into the system: 

  •  Improved in-machine architecture and automation 
  • Enhanced serviceability, scalable modular system design and ease of service 
  • Increased build volume: 500 X 500 platform 
  • Onboard software system: Modularized software architecture, superior exposure strategies and real-time, in-situ process monitoring 
  • Process Control & Thermal Stability. Control key process variables that dictate part quality. 

Part production, as well as setup and the dismantling processes, will take place in two independent machine units. The units can be physically operated separately from one another or combined depending on each customer’s preference. This enables production processes to run in parallel rather than sequentially, which reduces downtime considerably and in turn increases the availability and output quantity of the process chain. 

Laser ‘on’ time is heightened by separating the individual work process and the pre-/post-processing unit, while maintaining an integrated machine design: 

The M Line Factory LPS (Laser Processing Station) features a 500x500x400 mm3 (x,y,z) build envelope (further z-axis increase under development). Its laser power is 4x400 or 4x1,000 W. The unit core comprises three independent modules: powder module, build module and overflow module, which can be activated individually and do not form one continuous unit. These modules are transported automatically via the internal transport system. There's a frontload transport system or automated internal transport system. Increased overlap within the build field improves laser productivity potential. Flexible configuration allows build and process time to dictate LPS to MHS ratio. There's ease of transport: uniform size and interfaces on all modules; and maximum footprint efficiency: ability to stack up machines in a series alignment. 

For the M Line Factory MHS (Material Handling Station), there's a processing unit for the pre/post processing and powder management with an integrated sieving station. It features high safety standards. There's full powder and inert gas containment by automated module lidding system. Look for contactless powder handling throughout the process. Also, there is no manual handling in the process chamber. 

The M Line Factory automates upstream and downstream stages of the production process and provides interfaces to conventional manufacturing methods in the form of automation, interlinking and digitization. 

Sources: Press materials received from the company.

More Info

GE Additive

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