Prima Additive, the Additive Manufacturing division of Prima Industrie Group, headquartered in Turin, Italy, and Materialise, headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, are intensifying their collaboration in an effort to further the development of metal AM machines. The work has led to the optimisation of the Prima’s dual-laser Print Genius 150 Laser Beam Powder Bed Fusion (PBF-LB) AM machine.
On this machine, the company has integrated the Materialise Control Platform (MCP) hardware control to obtain real-time control functions and a streamlined combination with external systems intended to assist the process, such as monitoring and control systems.
The Materialise Control Platform is a machine-embedded hard- and software-driven platform for advanced control of laser-based AM processes. The MCP provides all the tools required for an open and configurable system to connect, control and monitor all process related hardware (Laser, Scanhead and Dynamic Focus).
The integration between the systems has resulted in the development of a laser Workload Balancing algorithm which is said to allow users to utilise the two lasers in a balanced way, optimising their workload. Thanks to this algorithm, the two lasers reportedly work in each layer for the same amount of time, automatically distributing the work in a homogeneous way and eliminating the moments in which only one of the two lasers is at work.
The first Print Genius 150 resulting from this collaboration was installed at the University of Leuven in April 2021.
“After the successful integration of our state-of-the-art Machine Control Platform (MCP) into the Print Genius 150, we demonstrated together that our Optics Load Balancing solution ensures an important gain in printing efficiency without loss of print quality,” stated Jan Van Espen, Research Manager at Materialise. “It was also nice to see how the Prima Additive and Materialise teams –however, being located at different sites during COVID-19 travel restrictions – succeeded in delivering such a successful project in such a short time period. Materialise and Prima Additive form a strong complementary partnership and we are looking forward to further joint projects with Prima Additive.”
All of the machines making up the Prima Additive 150 Family are equipped with different sensors that monitor the process in real-time, a double preheating system to heat the surface of the powder bed both from the top and bottom through the heated plate (up to 300° C), as well as the possibility to integrate lasers with different wavelengths (e.g., green lasers). Furthermore, the machine offers the possibility to set laser parameters and layer thicknesses in real-time during the build job. Given the product’s characteristics, Materialise MCP is said to adapt well to the software architecture of the machines.
Paolo Calefati, Head of Additive Manufacturing and Innovation at Prima Industrie, added, “This first joint project between Prima Additive and Materialise is the first brick of a research and business partnership for the two companies that will continue to invest in an ever-more profitable technological collaboration for the development of increasingly performing and easy-to-use machines, with the target to make additive technology more usable for SMEs and for all the companies that want to integrate this technology profitably in their production contexts.”