Equispheres Inc., a Canadian metallurgy company, and Aconity3D, a systems provider for flexible application-specific metal AM systems, are once again breaking new ground in metal additive manufacturing, achieving build rates for aluminium powder and laser powder bed fusion that are approximately 9x higher than industry norms.
Aconity3D and Equispheres have continued to push the limits of their machine and materials technologies, building on previous announcements of 3x improvements in production speeds. The two companies achieved production speeds in excess of 430 cm3/hr for a single laser using Aconity3D printing equipment with laser beam shaping and Equispheres’ NExP-1 AM powder.
“There are three pillars supporting this remarkable achievement. The leading-edge capabilities of Aconity3D’s printing technology, the novel application of beam shaping, and the unique powder properties of Equispheres’ NExP-1 printing material. This powerful combination allowed us to achieve outstanding results.”– Evan Butler-Jones, Vice-President – Product & Strategy at Equispheres
Equispheres NExP-1 high-performance AM powder
Laser beam shaping is used in other industries and has gained popularity in additive manufacturing due to its potential to speed up processing. Beam shaping modifies how energy is deposited on the powder bed in laser powder bed fusion, changing the power density and thermal gradient.
The two partners chose a material with stable melting behaviour and a tightly controlled printing process to fully explore the potential of beam shaping.
- NExP-1 is a best-in-class AlSi10Mg powder designed for high performance using Equispheres’ proprietary manufacturing process. It has consistent and repeatable melting properties.
- For this project, the AconityMIDI+ was outfitted with an IPG YLR 3000/1000-AM with beam shaping capabilities, allowing for a maximum power of 3 kW. In high productivity processing, the shaped beam, rather than a zoomed gaussian beam, reduces overheating and spatter formation. The printing systems from Aconity3D are modular, allowing for maximum functionality through tailor-made additive manufacturing solutions.
Butler-Jones added, “Aconity3D’s printing technology and the team’s expertise were crucial to this project’s success. We’re working with extremely high-powered lasers, testing additive manufacturing process parameters far beyond previous capabilities. It was necessary to have the precise control and monitoring capabilities of Aconity3D printers.”
The resulting build speed far outpaces current aluminium additive manufacturing production rates.
“NExP-1 powder is vital to achieve these remarkable speeds. It has exceptional properties that make it ideal for high-speed work. The powder characteristics enable optimal melting behaviour, which is required to achieve consistent printing with high-powered lasers at these extraordinary speeds.”– Martin Buscher, Head of Testing Facilities, Aconity3D
FORMNEXT 2023: Productivity increase through Adapted Laser Beam and Powder Properties
During a presentation at Formnext on Nov. 9 (10:15 a.m. at the Technology Stage), Equispheres and Aconity3D discussed the productivity impacts that can be achieved in aluminium L-PBF by combining engineered beam profiles with engineered powder. The presentation covered productivity gains and overall build results from ongoing work with Equispheres powders printed on Aconity3D machines using various laser profiles.
Attendees at Formnext 2023 can also stop by the Equispheres or Aconity3D booths to learn about the latest developments in high-performance materials and metal AM equipment.
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