Freemelt has ventured into production metal 3D printers.
The Swedish company has been producing the Freemelt ONE 3D printer for quite a while. It’s a smaller device that’s designed for experimental use in laboratories and institutions. Typically new metal powder mixes could be developed with this equipment.
Now I see the company has introduced a new device, the e¯MELT-iM, which is designed for manufacturing. They told us it’s part of their “research to production” concept.
The e¯MELT-iM is quite distant from the small scale, experimental ONE system, as it includes four modular build units, which can operate in parallel. Each build unit employs diode electron guns to selectively melt powder on each layer.
The system includes highly sophisticated thermal management, which includes both indirect and “spot melting” capabilities, as well as cooling processes. A retractable plate above the powder bed is heated by the electron beam to high temperatures, which sinters the powder. This separates the beam from the powder, eliminating some problems commonly found in electron beam equipment.
An interesting feature is a way to heat cathodes with lasers. This ensures very consistent beam production and beam spot size. In all, 24kW of power is delivered to the four print modules.
Another interesting feature is “build tank cooling”, which enables build temperatures in excess of 1000C.
However, the main design objective of the e¯MELT-iM seems to be operational. It’s designed to significantly reduce operator effort and maintain printing operations. For example, the build tanks can be individually removed from the printer for post processing elsewhere, while the printer can resume operations.
Amazing, the e¯MELT-iM is billed as an “open source system”. They say it is easy to integrate with other systems, and allows for full use of any practical material in the build chamber.
Along with the hardware, Freemelt also provides software to manage groups of devices, which they call “Fleet Management”. This tool allows for real time monitoring and control of jobs in a production situation.