Protolabs, Maple Plain, Minnesota, USA, will expand its metal Additive Manufacturing capacity by adding GE Additive’s Concept Laser X Line 2000R metal AM machine to its production services in late Summer 2020. The Laser Powder Bed Fusion (L-PBF) machine offers a large build volume of 800 mm x 400 mm x 500 mm, meaning that entire assemblies can be designed and additively manufactured as a single piece.
Dual 1000 W lasers allow for fast Additive Manufacturing of large parts and serialised production volumes, and the large-format machine is also said to contain two build modules, which reduce downtime by allowing one build to take place while another is being set-up. Although the machine can be used with a variety of metal powders, Protolabs states that it has chosen Inconel 718 as the initial focus material to better serve its rapidly expanding number of aerospace customers.
Along with the X Line 2000R, Protolabs has added four more GE Additive Concept Laser M2 machines to further grow its L-PBF production capacity. These machines are capable of producing parts up to 250 mm x 250 mm x 350 mm and brings Protolabs’ total L-PBF machine count to more than thirty metal Additive Manufacturing machines, of which all are believed to be capable of producing AS9100-production parts.
Protolabs explains that in its ongoing effort to enhance and expand its production capabilities in AM, it has invested in new post-processing equipment including a Solukon powder removal system and a new Ipsen vacuum heat-treat furnace, in order to improve the consistency of mechanical properties of its additively manufactured parts.
“Our customers, especially in the aerospace industry, have told us they need the ability to create larger parts with complex geometries,” explained Vicki Holt, President and CEO at Protolabs. “Through our partnership with GE Additive, we are responding by scaling up use of its cutting-edge equipment to further support our customers’ metal production needs.”
Jason Oliver, Vice President & CEO, GE Additive, commented, “The pace of momentum at Protolabs continues to impress. I appreciate the continued investment and trust in our solutions — the X Line and M2 machines are very well-suited to exacting needs of the aerospace industry. I also value the close working relationship with Vicki and her team, which is built on similar beliefs and a shared vision for industrial scale Additive Manufacturing.”