Lichtenfels, Germany - After a beta development phase, Concept Laser is presenting the large-format X line 1000R system as a series model featuring the largest build envelope reportedly available on the market (630 x 400 x 500 mm). The system was developed for tool-less manufacturing of large functional components and technical prototypes with identical material properties to series-production assemblies.
XXL-sized 3D components are currently a trend. The X line 1000R system (see photo below), which was developed jointly with the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (ILT) in Aachen, is opening up the dimensions of industrial 3D printing using metals.
At the core of the system are optics developed by ILT with a 1 kW laser, a significant jump from the 400 W class in terms of the component sizes and construction rates, says Concept Laser.
The X line 1000R is primarily intended for the automotive industry and the aerospace sector. In terms of materials, aluminum components can be made for lightweight auto construction. Aluminum alloys are popular among industry customers who work in the XXL range. The goal is to replace cost-intensive sand and die casting applications in early development phases. Furthermore, the LaserCUSING process makes it possible to construct lightweight structures with high rigidity and weight-optimized geometries with virtually no design restrictions.
The aerospace industry aims for high-performance materials for extreme requirements, such as titanium. The X line 1000R therefore features a closed system for safe process and powder management compliant with the strict ATEX directives.
The dimensions of the aluminum gear part (see photo above) are 474 x 367 x 480 mm (not including the height of the build platform). It is currently the largest metal component produced to date using the powder bed-based laser melting process.
"When hybrid construction methods are used, geometries can be created that are somewhat above the ‘basic’ construction area dimensions, if necessary, with heights up to 540 mm," said Dr. Florian Bechmann, head of development at Concept Laser.
After the prototype was presented at Euromold 2012, the focus has been on developing the customized mechanical and control engineering.
"The agenda for the beta phase included optimization of process parameters and intensive material qualification in order to prepare the X line 1000R for serial production,” said Bechmann. It also included careful temperature control of the build envelope in order to prevent distortion of "oversize" components. Concept Laser reports the maximum component length as 740 mm.
Top Photo: The largest part produced using additive manufacturing: a gear housing made of aluminum (474 x 367 x 480 mm, excluding build platform height) is constructed from powder at rates of > 50cm³/h. Source: Concept Laser GmbH, Lichtenfels
Bottom Photo: The X line 1000R large system for processing reactive materials within a closed system with automatic powder transport and consistent separation of the process chamber and the handling area. Source: Concept Laser GmbH, Lichtenfels