Concept Laser, the German metal 3D printing specialist has recently unveiled its innovative “Smart Factory” modular AM to help decouple pre-production and production in additive manufacturing. With the Industry 4.0 “smart factory”, the tasks in both process stages can be carried out in a parallel manner with physical distinction between both. This will allow manufacturers to develop more efficient AM production spaces whilst merging additive manufacturing technologies into current production lines in a seamless manner.
The AM Factory of Tomorrow, factory-building kit by Concept Laser will help in maximizing production, bring cost-effective results and improve scalability with just a simple move from sequential to the parallel. The Lichtenfels-based company sees its new machine architecture as a new industrial metal 3D printing milestone as the lead times for 3D printed parts would reduce considerably after the decoupling and automation of process stages.
Concept Laser now plans to commercialize its modular AM factory by offering stand-alone process stations that will make use of 1-4 laser systems. The build envelope is expected to be around 400 x 400 x >400 mm. Real time adjustment of laser spots measuring 50 – 500 ?m (diameter) will be made possible by the 3D scanning systems incorporated in the machines. Multiple lasers ensure uninterrupted building process as even if one laser fails, the others can help in getting the building completed.
This concept will make use of 2-axis coating system to help get rid of spatter problems. Another much appreciable part of the “smart factory” is the mindful division of processing, storage and excess material collection. The separated components in individual units are moved via a tunnel within the handling station to help reduce downtimes in scenarios where only a single module needs to be operated on.
The CL WRX 3.0 software suite is also an integral part of the machine architecture designed to monitor data flow rather efficiently. MDL (machine data logging) and ODL (operating data logging) are combined in the software enabling organized data flow throughout the digital process chain. Users will be able to see the build progress, pending maintenance tasks as well as interpret any error messages or check the amount of powder remaining.
According to Oliver Edelmann, Vice President of Global Sales & Marketing at Concept Laser, ‘’This approach follows completely new paths and enables economical series production. We want to significantly enhance the added value for our users.”