The companies Equispheres and Aconity3D have achieved productivity gains in metal 3D printing. According to the 3D printing specialists, they have achieved a build rate that is about 9 times higher than industry standards for aluminum powder and laser powder bed fusion.
Following previous announcements showing a three-fold improvement in production speeds, Aconity3D and Equispheres have further advanced their technologies. Using Aconity3D’s printing equipment equipped with laser beam shaping and Equispheres’ NExP-1 AM powder, production speeds of over 430 cm³ per hour have been achieved with a single laser.
“There are three pillars supporting this remarkable achievement,” says Evan Butler-Jones, Vice-President – Product & Strategy at Equispheres. “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.”
Laser beam shaping, already used in other industries, has gained attention in additive manufacturing due to its potential to improve processing speeds. In LPBF, beam shaping changes how energy is transferred to the powder bed, altering the energy density and thermal gradient.
To fully exploit the potential of beam forming, the partners chose a material with stable melting behavior and a precisely controlled printing process:
- NExP-1 is a high-performance AlSi10Mg powder from Equispheres that has been optimized for high performance. It offers consistent, repeatable melting properties.
- The AconityMIDI+ was modified with an IPG YLR 3000/1000-AM with beam shaping capabilities, allowing a maximum power of 3 kW for this project. The shaped beam reduces overheating and spray formation with high productivity compared to a normal Gaussian beam.
“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,” says Butler-Jones.
The build rate achieved far exceeds current production rates for aluminum in 3D printing.
“NExP-1 powder is vital to achieve these remarkable speeds,” explains Martin Buscher, Aconity3D. “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.”