Equispheres, Inc, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and Aconity3D, Herzogenrath, Germany, have reported achieving metal Additive Manufacturing build rates up to nine times greater than is typical for aluminium powder and Laser Beam Powder Bed Fusion (PBF-LB) AM processes.
Building on previous announcements of production speeds around three times faster than is norm, Aconity3D and Equispheres report production speeds in excess of 430 cm3/hr for a single laser. This was achieved using Equispheres’ NExP-1 AM AlSi10Mg powder, and an AconityMIDI+ AM machine with laser beam shaping.
“There are three pillars supporting this remarkable achievement,” stated Evan Butler-Jones, VP – Product & Strategy at Equispheres. “The leading-edge capabilities of Aconity3D’s printing technology, the novel application of beam shaping, and the unique powder properties of Equispheres’ NExP-1 printing material. This powerful combination allowed us to achieve outstanding results.”
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Laser beam shaping is used in other industries and has gained attention in Additive Manufacturing due to its potential to improve processing speeds. In PBF-LB, beam shaping modifies how energy is deposited on the powder bed, altering the power density and thermal gradient.
To fully explore the potential of beam shaping, the two partners selected NExP-1 AM for its stable melting behaviour as well as a tightly controlled Additive Manufacturing process on an AconityMIDI+ modified with an IPG YLR 3000/1000-AM with beam shaping capabilities enabling 3 kW of maximum power. The shaped beam – rather than a zoomed gaussian beam – reduces overheating and spatter formation in high productivity processing.
“Aconity3D’s printing technology and the team’s expertise were crucial to this project’s success. We’re working with extremely high-powered lasers, testing additive manufacturing process parameters far beyond previous capabilities. It was necessary to have the precise control and monitoring capabilities of Aconity3D printers,” says Butler-Jones.
“NExP-1 powder is vital to achieve these remarkable speeds,” explains Martin Buscher, Aconity3D. “It has exceptional properties that make it ideal for high-speed work. The powder characteristics enable optimal melting behaviour, which is required to achieve consistent printing with high-powered lasers at these extraordinary speeds.”
Equispheres and Aconity3D discussed the productivity impacts achieved by combining engineered beam profiles with engineered powders when processes aluminium via PBF-LB Additive Manufacturing at Formnext 2023, on the technology stage. Equispheres is currently exhibiting at Hall 11, B31 and Aconity3D, 12, B42.