Nov 18, 2015 | By Alec

Technology expos are always the best place to find more on the most promising up and coming 3D printers, and the Formnext trade fair – which is currently being held in Frankfurt, Germany – is no exception. Among the exciting previews are four new 3D printers by German laser experts TRUMPF, which utilize either laser metal fusion (LMF) or laser metal deposition (LMD) 3D printing technology: the TruPrint 1000 and TruPrint 3000 LMF machines and the TruLaser Cell 7040 and TruLaser Cell 3000 LMD 3D printers.

As you might know, TRUMPF have quite a bit of a 3D printing history. They specialize in machine tools, lasers and electronics and are a world leader in their field – achieving 2.72 billion euros in sales worldwide over 2014-2015. They have been in the field of additive manufacturing since 2000, when they developed the "TrumaForm" universal tool for the generative manufacturing of metals, but were a bit ahead of their time. Last year, they also entered a 3D printing partnership with Italians Sisma. This next chapter of high quality 3D printers was also already expected, following an announcement in October in which Dr.-Ing. E.h. Peter Leibinger, the head of the laser department, called the upcoming machines groundbreaking.

And that they certainly seem to be. To explain more about the technologies, LMF 3D printing systems build objects layer by layer by fusing powered materials together and TRUMPF says it is a perfect option for creating complex geometric structures. Think objects with internal channels, hollow spaces. It is also a cost effective option for making individual parts or very small product runs, they tell us. Powder is systematically placed on the chamber floor, with a 200-watt laser fusing lasers together, after which excess material is removed and the process is repeated over and over again.

All Photos: TRUMPF

That technology has been embedded in the new TruPrint 1000 LMF machine, a very impressive model that is intended for both hobbyists and professionals and can make objects of up to of 100 millimeters in diameter and 100 millimeters tall. To accommodate beginning users, it features a simple touch screen control with intuitive options. ‘The fascinating part actually takes place in the process enclosure, where the supply cylinder, construction chamber and overflow receiver are all aligned next to each other. The supply cylinder provides capacity for up to 1.4 liters of stainless steel, tool steel, aluminum or another weldable material in powdered form,’ the German engineers say. That chamber is also air proof (an oxygen content of 0.1 percent inside) to prevent fires.

If that doesn’t sound cool enough, the same principles are applied to the TruPrint 3000 – a larger model capable of manufacturing parts of up to 400 millimeters in height and 300 millimeters in diameter, capable of tempering up to as much as 500 degrees Celsius. Both, however feature excellent quality results and are cool enough to make your desktop FDM 3D printer look useless.

But their LMD options are nothing to snuff at either, and are essentially laser 3D printers aimed at large volume production and for adding structures to existing parts. ‘One example is adding a bolting flange to a pipe. In LMD systems, the laser forms a melt pool on the surface of a component and fuses the powder – applied simultaneously and coaxially – so as to create the desired shape. Consequently, a layer of beads welded one to another is created. Many layers together result in a body which can expand in any direction,’ the Germans explain.

That technology is applied to both the TruLaser Cell 7040 and the TruLaser Cell 3000 3D printers, with the former being a larger five-fold, design while the latter is more compact. But both, however, are remarkably quick. ‘By adding material at rates as much as 500 cubic centimeters per hour, LMD can be more economical than conventional manufacture. In addition, there is virtually no limit on the combination of materials. Almost any desired sandwich structure can be produced. And the process takes place on the surface of the part, in the ambient atmosphere. This reduces non-productive times and thus lowers the costs per part, they say. That makes this a very interesting manufacturing option indeed.

In short, with this new line of 3D printers TRUMPF is offering top of the range manufacturing quality, with plenty of variation in scale and material options to suit every interesting party. For more information about any of these machines, go to the TRUMPF website here or visit them at the Formnext trade fair while you still can.

 

 

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