December 19, 2012
As the year nears to a close, the trend for additive manufacturing (AM) systems seems to be size. Bigger isn’t always better, but some projects call for a more robust build envelope. Rapid Ready has already covered such behemoths as the Objet1000 and Concept Laser’s X line 1000R, and today we have a new contender.
Hailing from Germany, SLM Solutions offers manufacturing services such as vacuum casting, investment casting and rapid prototyping via its selective laser melting (the SLM in SLM Solutions) 3D printers. Officially dubbed powder bed fusion by the ASTM, the SLM process uses a powder bed of metal material and a high-powered laser to build 3D objects.
But we were talking about size. The new SLM 500 HL offers a 500 x 280 x 325 mm (19.6 x 11 x 12.8 in.) build envelope. It uses a dual-beam setup, with a 400W and 1000W laser firing from the same “print head.” The new AM system has two such print heads, making a total of four lasers that work in tandem (or independently for multiple, smaller builds) to increase print speed, which is important with a large build envelope.
From the company’s website:
The pioneer and active technology leader in systems for additive manufacturing and rapid tooling is now taking further steps towards production technology for establishing additive manufacturing beside classical techniques. The laser beam melting system SLM 500 HL meets both the largest and most productive system for a powder-bed based laser beam melting system.
An automated powder management system also helps decrease print time, using a continuous conveyance system. The SLM 500 HL has a build speed of 70 cm3/h, and offers a layer thickness of 20µ - 200µ. SLM Solutions’ new system uses Magic AutoFab software to work with CAD and .stl files.
It’ll be interesting to watch how the technology develops as industrial AM systems continue to grow larger. Simply making a large build envelope isn’t enough when designing a new 3D printer. A larger system needs faster build methods, and those methods are bound to trickle down to small AM systems as well, changing the industry as a whole.
Below you’ll find a video from SLM Solutions about its process.
Source: SLM Solutions