French company AddUp, a joint venture created by Michelin and Fives in 2016, has launched the FormUp 350, its latest metal Additive Manufacturing machine based on Laser Beam Powder Bed Fusion (PBF-LB) technology. The AM machine is said to be suitable for all types of metal powders with fine or medium granulometry.
The four 500 W lasers are all equipped with a three-axis optical chain, which enables positioning accuracy and good laser beam quality. The machine’s bidirectional coating system is reportedly 40% faster than monodirectional powder spreading and helps to avoid the soiling of laser protection glass during manufacturing.
This new machine relies on a modular, scalable architecture, which is intended to stave off machine obsolescence as it allows for upgrades and replacements to be made without needing to replace the machine entirely. Optimised sealing of the production chamber to reduce inerting times fifteen minutes are sufficient to reach an oxygen level of 500 ppm.
This modularity also allows operators to work safely, using an autonomous powder module developed exclusively with AZO which enables the storage, conveyance, recovery and sieving of powders in a close-circuit, inert atmosphere. Exposure to fumes and smelting resides is controlled via an automatic passivation filter system which ensures safe waste disposal with the use of calcium carbonate powder. This filter, with a replacement interval greater than a year, greatly reduces the waste’s flammability.
All machine parameters are accessible to the user, who is able to create specific ‘recipes’ in balancing productivity and part detail, suitable to their industry’s need.
The machine’s software, AddUp’s NCore, is capable of processing production files of over 80 GB in one go. AddUp Dashboard is able to track eighty manufacturing parameters and the automatic editing of production conformity reports. A system has also been developed for monitoring fusion quality, continuously measuring the laser’s power and the temperature of the fusion. This also allows in-situ analysis of powder spreading, checking for defects on the powder bed and triggering a second coating, when necessary. There is also a system of referencing platforms by probes allowing in a few seconds to adjust the positioning of the manufacturing trays and check their flatness.
The FormUp 350 is said to be the only machine on the market with an interchangeable coating device, offering two powder spreading systems: a scraper or a roller. The roller system is said to provide better repeatability for certain medium powder applications, but also allows the use of fine powders in unsupported manufacturing of cantilevered parts and improved surface finishes. A heating plate up to 200°C reduces stress concentrations and the risk of part deformation. A cooling system for the machine’s Z-axis lowering the temperature of the platform at the end of production, allowing parts to be unloaded more quickly (two hours to cool down from 200°C to 65°C).
The FormUp 350 is available in four configurations, each with its own set of modules and capabilities: starter, efficiency, productivity and advanced.