Solukon Maschinenbau GmbH, Augsburg, Germany, reports that its SFM-AT800-S depowdering system, which was co-developed with Siemens, has been beta tested on the shop floor by both MBFZ toolcraft GmbH and Morf3D with promising results. The SFM-AT800-S uses an intelligent algorithm developed by Siemens to rotate a metal additively manufactured part for depowdering in a sequence calculated from the CAD geometry, draining the residual powder from intricate cavities such as conformal cooling channels.
MBFZ toolcraft, Georgensgmünd, Germany, manufactures complex components for a range of industries out of its production facility of about 14,000 m2. The company currently uses Laser Powder Bed Fusion (L-PBF) and has an extensive range of AM equipment. On beta testing of the SFM-AT800-S, Uwe Schulmeister, the company’s Head of Metal Laser Melting, stated:
“The results are really convincing. Besides the requirement to remove material in order to avoid problems in post-processing, the system has a few other distinct advantages. Firstly, residual powder material is extracted and saved for reuse, which is a clear economic advantage for expensive materials. Secondly, post-processing is less problematic because there is less material to be disposed of. This is a very important ecological aspect for us.”
“We tested the system with a wide variety of components,” he explained. “For example, we tested complex components such as a biology-inspired, flow-optimised combination burner from Siemens. But even with much simpler parts, we showed that the SFM-AT800-S is much faster and more efficient than any other method. For us, this means a considerable simplification of our manufacturing process because we no longer have to worry about the quality of the results. It also allows us to define a workflow that enables us to offer our customers a clear line in quality assurance as well.”
Morf3D, El Segundo, California, USA, specialises in precision metal Additive Manufacturing and engineering for aviation and aerospace. The company provides a variety of integrated AM services, including conceptualisation, parameter optimisation, part manufacturing, finishing, metallurgical examination, certification and data analysis. Derek Smith, Operations Manager, commented on the beta testing:
“Before the introduction of the Solukon unit at Morf3D, depowdering was a series of manual operations, with related problems such as lifting and handling, containing the loose powder, and having to document successful steps and recreating. The benefits of this new, complete production process include eliminating the human element and associated sources of potential error, having a stable, repeatable operation, and having an ergonomic and environmentally friendly solution.”
“A reproducible result pushes the quality forward,” he continued. “The new technology helps to build confidence in the AM powder removal process, and therefore confidence in the end product. A programmable solution that consistently repeats will establish confidence in the operation and reduce the amount of scrap hardware. … The Solukon/Siemens SFM-AT800-S allows for more reliability, which moves one step closer to customer adoption of the technology.”