Nov 25, 2015 | By Alec
While Toshiba is currently especially known for its household electronics –from microwaves, to laptops and TVs – they might become renowned for something completely different soon. For they have just announced that they are developing a very high quality industrial-grade laser metal deposition 3D printer, one that will manufacture parts ten times as quickly as powder bed fusion 3D printers – the technology currently most often used to 3D print in metal. This new 3D printer, which thus seems to have the power to revolutionize metal 3D printing, is set to be showcased at the 'Monozukuri Matching Japan 2015' at Tokyo Big Sight from December 2 to 4.
This fascinating machine is the result of a collaboration between two main branches in the gigantic Toshiba family: Toshiba Corporation (generally just called Toshiba) and Toshiba Machine Co., Ltd. It is also being sponsored by a development program of the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), which is focused on developing the next generation of 3D printing technology: ‘Technological Development for Next-Generation Industrial 3D Printers and Ultra-High-Precision 3D Shaping Systems.’
The laser metal deposition technology they are using is one of the highest quality metal 3D printing options out there, and essentially revolve around a tandem operation of depositing powder and sintering it together. While this isn’t the first 3D printer to utilize this 3D printer, Toshiba reportedly achieves these remarkably high manufacturing speeds through a new nozzle, one that has been based on Toshiba's fluid simulation technology. While most powder-based 3D printers need to apply the powder over quite large surfaces before selectively fusing materials together, this nozzle only applies the material to a very small area, enabling the laser to precisely cover the tiny area.
This means that especially deposition times are greatly reduced, speeding up the process considerably. The current prototype of this Toshiba machine is capable of fabrication speeds of 110cc per hour, using an 800-watt laser output. It can also, Toshiba says, build larger structures at a lower cost than other 3D printing methods, and is already capable of working with a variety of materials, including stainless steel, Iconel and iron.
While it will be showcased in Tokyo next month, the machine is still fully under development. Toshiba and Toshiba Machine will continue refining the machine to further improve their fabrication speed and revolution, while they will also work on an interface with CAD software. The Toshiba Machine branch will actually manufacture these LMD 3D printers and create their machine tools, while the Toshiba are planning to use them to manufacture parts for their social infrastructure systems to improve production efficiency. They are currently expecting to take the machine into use in (or just after) 2017.
Posted in 3D Printer
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Barney wrote at 11/27/2015 1:38:13 AM:
What type of laser is used in this machine?