Dec 1, 2014

Concept Laser, a pioneer in the field of laser melting with metals, presented its new M2 cusing system featuring a modern design and numerous innovations, as well as two new certified materials at Euromold 2014. Specifically, concept laser has focused on improving their process, particularly in the segmented exposure strategy, and on a ground-breaking quality assurance module QMmeltpool 3D.

The design of the new M2 cusing

Presentation of the new M2 cusing

The new M2 cusing is being brought out with a modernized appearance and a fully integrated structure, i.e. there are no longer any external components for the laser and filter system. This self-contained solution provides benefits for the user in terms of the accessibility of the system components as well as greatly reduced space requirements. However, the new enhancements are not just at the surface level.

The new M2 cusing is, for instance, equipped with a entirely new filter design. This has increased the surface area of the filter from 4 to 20 square meters. The new filter module has been designed with fixed tubing and is fully integrated into the system. The frequency with which the filter has to be replaced can be reduced to such an extent that the overall throughput of the system is increased, an important enhancement when using the multilaser technology.

In addition, with the increased formation of smoke particles, the new filter further enhances productivity.

"Significantly faster build rates demand safer filter replacement concepts. Every filter change must be quick and easy. We have incorporated the new enhanced filter technology with safety as our primary consideration", explains Dr. Florian Bechmann, Head of Development at Concept Laser. For instance, the M2 cusing comes standard with a water-submersible filter in order to guarantee safety when changing the filter.

Dr. Florian Bechmann

Series enhancement with multilaser technology

"Our product range is now enhanced with multilaser technology and it directly affects the exposure time. Our experience has shown that build rates can be increased by up to 80%. That's a very pleasing result", notes Dr. Bechmann.

The multilaser technology is currently being incorporated into the medium size segment. For instance, a multilaser version of the new M2 cusing – called the M2 cusing Multilaser – is available right now. It's available with 2 x 200 watt lasers, or alternatively with 2 x 400 watt lasers.

What's more, Concept Laser has also signalled the arrival of multilaser technology in their largest and well-established machine, the X line 1000R. The even larger X line 2000R will be available in the near future, and will be fitted with 2 x 1000 watt lasers. The aim is to drive ever faster construction speeds which are required by users in the aerospace and automotive industries.

Practically useful: multilaser technology

Segmented exposure strategy improves the performance characteristics of components

Concept Laser has likewise raised its game in relation to its exposure strategy. The key term here is segmented exposure. Generally speaking, higher laser power produces a rougher surface finish. "Our new systems technology implements the hull-core principle, which enables density and surface quality to be controlled independently," says Dr. Bechmann.

This means that segmented exposure has an influence on the outer parts of the component –, including overhangs and high-density areas. This optimized exposure strategy improves not only the level of quality, but also build speeds. The end result is that a component's performance characteristics can be significantly improved through the use of segmented exposure strategy.

Segmented exposure according to the shell-core principle for optimum density and surface quality

Enhanced real-time monitoring of the construction process with the QMmeltpool 3D

Concept Laser has also demonstrated key enhancements in real-time process monitoring for quality assurance purposes. "Inline process monitoring" is one of Concept Laser's strategic technology fields, and one which we are now expanding with the QMmeltpool 3D", says Dr. Bechmann.

"If we can dynamically micro-analyse the construction process, the level of quality increases. Important key industries with their sophisticated applications have enabled us to develop this important innovative step."

In a comparable manner to computed tomography (CT), the new QMmeltpool 3D makes it possible to generate 3D data sets that co-relate directly to the component and/or its structure. According to Concept Laser, this allows local effects that arise during the construction of the component to be clearly identified and analysed.

The practical added value of this innovation is not just that it is an original way of providing real time quality assurance, but also that production builds can be optimized through iterative variation of the parameters. Support structures can be adapted, and above all, the construction of the component can be structured in a more efficient and production-friendly manner. Last but not least, real time monitoring opens new opportunities in the materials research field.

3D representation of QMmeltpool 3D

New materials for laser melting systems

Concept Laser's development center has certified two new materials, both of which premiered in Frankfurt. For high-temperature applications, Inconel 625 is now available. This material is mainly intended for use in turbine construction, where components are exposed to high thermal stress of up to 1000°C. The second material is the stainless steel, 17-4 PH. This material can be hardened and consequently made highly resistant to abrasion, wear and corrosion. These properties are particularly attractive in relation to medical instruments. The certification of 17-4 PH stainless steel applies to the Mlab cusing R, M1cusing, and the M2 cusing series.

Medical instrument made of 17-4 PH stainless steel: abrasion- and corrosion-resistant

All image sources: Concept Laser GmbH, Lichtenfels


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