German company OR Laser has developed a sophisticated metal 3D printer based on their previous laser expertise.
The company has since 1997 manufactured laser equipment of many types, with a speciality in laser welding. That put them in the ideal position to develop a 3D printer, as they know quite a lot on the deposition process. They put a portion of their 100+ staff on the case and came up with the OR Laser Creator.
The Creator uses a direct deposition technique; it does not use a powder bed as many other metal 3D printers do. Instead there is a special “powder nozzle” attached near the end of the laser head. As the laser moves, powder sprays and is immediately fused in place by the 250w fiber laser.
The machine is not a large volume; in fact it has only a 100mm diameter by 100mm tall cylindrical volume. The company explains that this “circular method” makes motion up to 30% faster. It’s certainly unique for metal 3D printers.
The relatively small volume makes it fast to operate; the Creator can swiftly evacuate the oxygen from the build chamber. They claim they can have less than one percent oxygen in only two minutes.
There’s a fancy control panel, which is in fact a tablet with specialized software. Why is this so interesting? Because the Creators can be clustered together for parallel operation, and you need only one tablet to manage all of them.
You might notice that the machine doesn’t necessarily look like a factory floor item. This is because OR Laser designed the unit for office use. It is entirely suitable for office use due to its filtering and control of materials.
The Creator uses materials cartridges provided by OR Laser, which is a bit different from many other metal 3D printers that employ the “Open Materials” concept, but the pricing of the materials is less of an issue because the prints are relatively small. Apparently this machine is capable of 3D printing in gold, if you can afford it.
The cost of Creator is said to be around €77,000 (USD$82,000) and could be an interesting option for those requiring small, high precision metal parts.
Via OR Laser