Additec, located in Las Vegas, USA and Bremen, Germany, has launched a new desktop-size metal AM system named the μPrinter. The μPrinter can processes both wire and powder feedstock using the company’s unique Laser Metal Deposition-Wire Powder (LMD-WP) process, with the complete system being offered at a price point starting at $90,000 USD.
Producing parts from wire has the advantage of low material cost and high availability of stock, being safe and clean to handle. Combining the ability to process powder is said to close the gap to conventional LMD, whilst also allowing users to mix alloys in-situ. Switching between wire and powder on the μPrinter does not require a nozzle change and can be done automatically on the same part.
Additec’s LMD-WP process works by having multiple high-power diode laser sources arranged around the central axis of the deposition head. Wire is fed through a central wire guide, while powder is fed through an annular gap nozzle around the wire guide. Closed loop process control is a standard feature on the μPrinter, with the system being controlled either via a locally hosted web interface, or through USB.
“Process stability was the most important aspect for the development of the μPrinter. Because wire based coaxial deposition is not as common as powder LMD, we developed our own process control structure, that not only adjusts the processing parameters on the fly, but also measures the height of the individual layers, and adjusts nozzle to part distance automatically,” the company stated.
The print envelope is reported to be 120 x 160 x 450 mm (XYZ), and in addition to Additive Manufacturing, it is also suitable for cladding and repair work on small components.
Additec’s LMD-WP process, launched in 2016, is also offered as a retrofit package that could be used to turn existing CNC platforms into metal AM or hybrid manufacturing systems.