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Additive Manufacturing "Factory of Tomorrow" Now More than Just a Concept

For the first time, part production as well as set-up and dismantling processes can take place in two independent machine units so that they can be operated physically separate from one another. This now enables production processes to run in parallel rather than sequentially so that downtimes are considerably reduced and the availability and output quantity of the process chain is increased.

The long-awaited commercial product launch of the new machine architecture from Concept Laser, the M LINE FACTORY, heralds a completely new approach in machine architecture and offers an unprecedented level of automation and innovation.

The "smart factory" is a flexibly expandable, high-grade automated and centrally controllable meta production system that enables the economical series production of additive metal components.

 

 

The M LINE FACTORY PRD, the production unit, has a maximum build envelope of 400 x 400 x 425 mm³ (x,y,z) and is optionally equipped with 1 to 4 laser sources, each delivering 400 W or 1,000 W of laser power.

The core of the unit is three independent modules, the dose module, the build module and the overflow module, which can be individually activated for the first time and therefore do not form one continuous unit. The individual modules are moved via a tunnel system inside the machine. This means that, for example, when new powder is supplied, the empty powder storage module can automatically be replaced by a new module immediately without the build process necessarily needing to be interrupted, as was previously the case.

Finished build jobs can now also be moved out of the machine with the dedicated module and replaced directly by a new prepared build module so that production operations can be resumed immediately.

Furthermore, a new 2-axis coating process has been implemented and this permits the return run of the coater to be performed alongside the exposure without the spatter problems that usually arise in the market today with systems that coat in both directions. This results in a substantial saving on time during the coating process in combination with a pursuit for the highest quality.

The latest machine architecture from Concept Laser: The M LINE FACTORY is noted for physical separation of the machine units. Operations can now take place in parallel rather than sequentially, which saves time and costs.

 

 

 

 

Also under preparation is the integration of an automated tool changing system, as is the case with CNC machine technology, which promises flexibility as well as time advantages when setting up the machine, and further reduces the level of manual intervention by the operator.

The physically separate, autonomous M LINE FACTORY PCG is available as the processing unit for set-up and disarming processes. This enables "optimum use windows" right through to the ideal of 24/7 availability of the machine technology.

The new processing unit has an integrated sieving station and powder management. There is now no need for containers to be used for transportation between the machine and sieving station. Unpacking, preparations for the next build job and sieving therefore take place in a self-contained system without the operator coming into contact with the powder. An automated material flow is another unique selling point. This allows self-contained modules for transport and material provision to be used.

The associated software suite CL WRX 3.0 includes various user roles with different authorization levels which enables operator-specific, transparent control and monitoring of all process operations. In addition, it is an open structure with interfaces to CLS, ERP, machine technology and automation technology. The intention is that the system should also be able to integrate remote diagnosis, service monitoring and later, diagnostic devices as well. Another advantage is the connectivity with different output media such as panels, PCs, laptops, or smartphones that an employee can use to stay on top of things.

The production unit and processing unit can be combined in any way you want. Here is an example of a processing unit with two production units.

 

 

The modular machine technology of the M LINE FACTORY forms the core of Concept Laser's "AM Factory of Tomorrow" concept which also makes provision for upstream and downstream stages of the production process as well as links to conventional manufacturing methods. The concept consistently implements the basic idea of "Industry 4.0" in the form of automation, interlinking, and digitization, and thus permits the economical series production of additive metal components.

Machinery and Plant Technology for Larger Parts

In addition to its long-standing successful model, the Mlab cusing R, Concept Laser has now unveiled its "big brother," the Mlab cusing 200R. This makes it possible to manufacture even larger parts with much greater productivity, without the machine losing any of its familiar compactness. The absolute highlights of this new development include:

The intuitive design of the display enables the machine operator to quickly get to grips with things in maintaining an overview of the process. The provider paid particular attention to the sieving of the powder.

Premiere of the Mlab cusing 200R: larger build plate, bigger build volume and more laser power.

 

 

For the Mlab cusing 200R, Concept Laser offers an inertized sieving station as a stand-alone unit (QM Powder S). QM Powder S enables independent and automated sieving alongside the production process. The user can apply a variable number of sieves (1 - 3 units). A three-dimensional sieving motion enables optimum utilization of the open sieve surface area.

Safety was at the top of the development list for the Mlab cusing 200R: The new model has water-floodable filter modules and involves physical separation of the process and handling chambers, which is typical for Concept Laser and ensures maximum safety and easy handling.

The concept of the closed system was a must-have for the Mlab 200R: All process steps take place under inert gas, shielded from external influences. The whole process can therefore be called up reliably and with the maximum quality level.

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Concept Laser

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