Germany’s Concept Laser has been a leader in the field of laser metal melting since the debut of its M3 Linear system in 2004.
Complete with a 350 × 350 × 300 mm (just over one cubic foot) build volume, the M3 Linear can process a wide variety of metals, including stainless steel and other chromium alloys.
To melt its atomized metal powder stock, the M3 uses either a 200W or 400W fiber laser.
Given its relatively large build volume, the M3 uses galvo scanning optics, beam deflectors, mirrors and linear direct drives to maintain laser accuracy across its vast powder bed.
Aside from printing, the M3 is also capable of performing laser erosion jobs and laser marking jobs. With these added features, the M3 can be employed in a number of operations, increasing the machine’s productivity.
How the M3 Linear Works
Concept Laser’s proprietary LaserCUSING technology builds metal components layer by layer in a fashion similar to other metal sintering machines. The major difference between Concept Laser and other metal additive manufacturing (AM) manufacturers’ melting process is that Concept Laser’s engineers have designed a machine that doesn’t require a heated build chamber. For this reason, the only energy that is applied to the machine’s atomized metal material is direct laser energy. According to Oliver Edelmann of Concept Laser, “This is a prerequisite to get very high density and almost identical mechanical properties [similar] to a normal part milled out of a solid steel block.”
At the outset of a print, a layer of atomized metal powder is spread across the print bed and swept to form a completely flat surface. With an even metal surface established, a 200W-400W laser rapidly traces the profile of whatever model is being built before a new layer of metal is laid down on the print bed and the melting process begins again. As each successive layer builds upon the next, M3’s laser binds the previous layer to the current layer, forging a solid final product.
Once a print job has been completed, leftover material can be re-sieved and returned to the material hopper to be used in another build.
Although many metal AM machine manufacturers offer a wide variety of materials, to my knowledge Concept Laser is the only firm that offers an in-house material customization service that will develop atomized custom alloys tailored to a client’s needs.
Read more at ENGINEERING.com