Additec launches μPrinter, the Most Compact Desktop Laser Metal Deposition 3D Printer

Metal Deposition 3D Printer
Metal Deposition 3D Printer
Above: Printing in progress/Image Credit: Additec

Additec recently launched a new desktop-size laser metal deposition 3D printer called the μPrinter. It is claimed to be the first commercially available desktop-size laser wire deposition 3D Printer. The unique capability of the μPrinter is that it can process both wire and/or powder feedstock.

The μPrinter is able to process both the materials by using its unique Laser Metal Deposition-Wire Powder (LMD-WP) Process. Switching between wire and powder is fast, does not require a nozzle change and can be done automatically on the same part.

Additec μPrinter

Metal Deposition 3D Printer
Above: Additec μPrinter on display/Image Credit: Additec

The μPrinter offers a unique proposition by giving the user an ability to manufacture metal parts right on his desktop. This comes with an additional benefit of being able to use both wire and powder feedstock.

Processing wire is advantageous because material cost is low, availability is high, and it is safe and clean to handle.

Metal Deposition 3D Printer
Above: Additec μPrinter deposition head/Image Credit: Additec

Additec Advances Directed Energy Deposition 3D printing with the μPrinter, a desktop machine capable of producing complex metallic components from both, wire and powder feedstock using Additec´s unique LMD-WP (Laser Metal Deposition-Wire Powder) Process. The ability to produce parts from wire feedstock makes operation and material handling very clean, as well as ensuring 100% material efficiency.

Being also able to process powder closes the gap to conventional LMD and brings the ability to mix alloys on the fly. Easy switching between wire and powder feed is almost instantaneous and can be carried out on the same part. The Process works by having multiple high-power diode laser sources arranged around the central axis of the deposition head. The wire is fed through a central wire guide, while powder is fed through an annular gap nozzle around the wire guide.

Metal Deposition 3D Printer
Above: Automatic wire cutter/Image Credit: Additec

The printer has an integrated wire cutter at the back. This automatic wire cutter is a very convenient feature, which saves a lot of money and argon. If a print failure occurs, the controller can automatically return to the position of failure, trim the wire feedstock and restart the process.

Process stability was the most important aspect for the development of the μPrinter. Because wire based coaxial deposition is not as common as powder LMD, we developed our own process control structure that not only adjusts the processing parameters on the fly, but also measures the height of the individual layers, and adjusts the nozzle to part distance automatically. Further, to grant users maximum flexibility, as all process parameters can be set in g-code. To easily change parameters for certain sections of a build, a macro utility is provided. As a welcomed side-effect of the closed-loop control, the print quality is very high, both in wire and powder mode. The printer can be controlled either via a locally hosted web interface or through USB.

Closed loop process control is a standard feature on the μPrinter, ensuring high reliability. The μPrinter is very efficient using modern direct diode lasers as an energy source. It features a controlled atmosphere enclosure, allowing for large material variety. The complete system has a very low price point, starting at 90 000 USD.

Despite the compact outer dimensions, the print envelope is 120x160x450mm (XYZ) making the μPrinter useful beyond research applications. The build chamber is fully inert, and the small volume makes filling quick, affordable and safe. In addition to Additive manufacturing, it is also suitable for Cladding and Repair work on small components.

The μPrinter is based on Additec’s patented LMD-WP process, launched in 2016. Previously offered as a retrofit package that could be used to turn existing CNC platforms into metal 3D printers or hybrid manufacturing systems. In order to lower the barrier of entry, Additec now offers complete systems, starting with the μPrinter.

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