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MTC acquires new M 290-2 FLX system from AMCM

The UK's Manufacturing Technology Centre will have first access to the new state-of-the-art industrial laser-based powder bed fusion solution

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The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) will have first access to the M 290-2 FLX system from AMCM, a new state-of-the-art industrial laser-based powder bed fusion solution, equipped with dual variable spot size nLIGHT lasers. This will allow the MTC to evaluate novel applications with materials that have been difficult to process reliably to date.

Based in Coventry UK, the MTC is an independent Research & Technology Organization, providing customers with easy and early access to the latest applied technologies and research. As the National Center of Additive Manufacturing in the UK, MTC is a focal point for AM research activities within the country. The team specializes in developing advanced manufacturing processes and technologies to produce complex and large-scale AM components. MTC wanted a system that was flexible, industrially scalable and pushed the boundaries to enable step changes in novel materials development and productivity.

The UK manufacturing sector is at the forefront of innovation,” said Sina Trik, Sales – AMCM, EMEA. “While the use of materials such as copper offers huge benefits to product designers, manufacturers still face challenges in the additive manufacturing process. It’s always amazing to work with MTC – a true thought leader in UK – to expand the field of industrial metal AM“.

MTC acquires M 290-2 FLX system from AMCM and will have first access to the new state-of-the-art industrial LPBF solution
The MTC team visiting AMCM Starnberg to receive comprehensive practical training on the machine before it is delivered. From left to right: Chris Dalton, Alex Hardaker, Marius Christ, Christoph Seyfert, Fiona Schulz, Marius Hoyer.

Using smarter lasers not more

AMCM, whose mother company EOS recently joined MTC as a Tier 3 member, provides customized solutions based on industrialized EOS systems. The AMCM M 290-2 FLX incorporates two nLIGHT AFX lasers, offering a variable laser spot from 85 µm Gaussian to 210 µm donut shape. This enables a wider and shallower melt pool with more uniform temperature distribution, resulting in faster printing with improved process stability, and reduced soot, and spatter. The traditional approaches that have been used to date to solve these problems, such as beam defocusing, can have a detrimental effect on the focus profile and a negative impact on part quality and repeatability.

The AMCM M 290-2 FLX offers a full field overlap, meaning both scanners can reach all spots on the build plate and full flexibility is possible with regards to build orientation. AMCM already showed a significant productivity increase with for example IN718 material. Compared to a standard single 400W laser process with 85 µm spot size, a single nLIGHT exposure process is 2 times faster in addition to having the same mechanical and surface properties, this is expected to be further improved with an additional laser source.

Prepared for most demanding materials

Gas flow and oxygen level are often the defining factors in PBF-LB processes quality. This is particularly true when speed is increased above a certain threshold or when oxidation-sensitive materials are used. As AMCM specializes in industrial solutions, its systems feature unique long term stable atmosphere control at < 50 ppm. MTC will initially use the AMCM M 290-2 FLX for a comprehensive evaluation of pure copper printing, which is a challenging material when aiming for industrial quality and reliability.

Furthermore, the AMCM M 290-2 FLX system can heat the build platform up to 500°C. As pre- and post-heat treatment is critical in the processing of certain high performance aluminum alloys and refractory metals, this enables MTC to evaluate a wide range of high-end applications, such as those in the aerospace and defence industry.

MTC acquires M 290-2 FLX system from AMCM and will have first access to the new state-of-the-art industrial LPBF solution
By ordering an AMCM M 290-2 FLX system with two 1.2 kilowatt nLIGHT lasers, the MTC will be able to expand its capabilities and cover even more demanding applications.

Cost-effectiveness – a core objective in AM

As well as exploring new materials, the MTC is also developing ways to increase the speed of AM production and the size of output components. Efficient exposure processes are needed to reduce time and costs. The variable spot sizes of nLIGHT can be switched within 30 ms to print contours and fine structures with maximum precision and infill hatching with accelerated throughput. Much like a master painter who uses different brushes for the large areas as opposed to the details, a larger spot size is also a good option for filling bulk material in additive manufacturing.  After all, this allows you to generate more volume with each pass, significantly reducing the number of hatches and reversal points. Furthermore, the MTC will be investigating novel methods of reducing the need for post-processing steps, such as heat treatment, through novel in-situ beam interactions and in process monitoring.

Equipped with two 1200 W laser sources, the AMCM M 290-2 FLX is a high-power system, perfect for pushing the limits of speed and size. Ruaridh Mitchinson, Technology Manager at the MTC says: “The laser setup will be identical to what is in future larger AMCM machines such as the AMCM M 8K. We will use our machine to investigate topics such as laser overlap on a smaller scale before going up to using larger systems. This investment demonstrates our continued support to companies by providing open access to assets with advanced AM capabilities that can produce high-performance parts more efficiently and cost-effectively. This way, we can help to increase the technology’s adoption in the UK.”

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites VoxelMatters.com and Replicatore.it, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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