SLM®500 quad-laser machines have been selected by Rolls-Royce to help develop its Additive Layer Manufacturing capability. The machines will play an important role in helping Rolls-Royce in the competitive adoption of additive layer manufacturing for aerospace components.
SLM Solutions focuses solely on metal additive manufacturing technology and pioneered multi-laser machines. This years-long experience mastering multi-laser optics, together with their patented bi-directional recoating mechanism makes selective laser melting systems the most productive on the market. With four lasers enabling build rates up to 171 cm3, the SLM®500 serves as the flagship metal 3D printer for high volume processes while offering automated, closed-loop material supply, recovery and sieving to minimize operator handling of metal powder.
Speed and safety are common requirements, but aerospace is a challenging environment for manufacturing because of the rigorous certification process that requires a reliable, high standard of part quality.
Meddah Hadjar, CEO of SLM Solutions Group AG said: “Rolls-Royce is very advanced in additive layer manufacturing, with a state-of-the-art approach and expert team working on extremely complex metal additive manufacturing solutions. SLM Solutions recognized the need at Rolls-Royce for a supplier to support with equipment qualification. We work closely to develop products that meet their needs to assure aerospace certified part quality levels. This way the Rolls-Royce team can document their expertise and control of the systems adhering to strict regulations and keep their ambitious and innovative additive production plans on track.”
Neil Mantle, Head of Additive Layer Manufacturing at Rolls-Royce said: ”We are delighted to be working with SLM Solutions and using their quad-laser machines. Rolls-Royce continues to develop our additive layer manufacturing capability to ensure we are at the forefront of advanced manufacturing. We knew that transferring our expertise and knowledge gained from single laser machines to multi-laser platforms would require a close working relationship and SLM Solutions have provided this.”
Rolls-Royce required multi-laser systems to meet both their productivity demands and maintain rigorous quality controls previously established. This also led them to adopt the four laser SLM®500, the first quad-laser machine introduced to the market in 2013.
Essential to their selection of SLM Solutions as a supplier was the control of inert gas flow to maintain a controlled working atmosphere across the build chamber. Gas flow and control within the multi-laser machine was rigorously investigated by the Rolls- Royce team because of its direct correlation to build quality, and the sintered wall gas flow of the SLM Solutions’ machines provided optimal results in a compact footprint for their needs.
With an eye forward SLM Solutions has included Rolls-Royce as a beta customer for machine accessories to cooperate on future developments.