Home 3D Printer Low Cost SLM 3D Printer to be Unveiled at formnext 2016

Low Cost SLM 3D Printer to be Unveiled at formnext 2016

The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology and the GoetheLab at Fachhochschule Aachen will debut a new low cost SLM 3D printer at the formnext trade show, taking place in Frankfurt from November 15 to 18.

The 3D printer developed through a joint project is targeted at small and medium-sized companies, that cannot invest in expensive machines or set up new divisions. According to a recent study conducted by the government’s department for economy and energy, SMEs are not fully aware of the potentials and opportunities of additive manufacturing technology.

Back in 2014, FH Aachen and Fraunhofer ILT founded a centre for 3D printing based in Aachen, where a collaborating group of experts ensures access to 3D printing technology for medium-sized businesses. As these enterprises also aim to introduce new technologies, one of the center’s projects resulted in the development of a low cost selective laser melting (SLM) machine, capable of producing parts with a maximum hight of 90 mm and diameter of 80 mm using a 140 W diode laser and cartesian system.

For a comparable system companies would have to pay at least € 100,000, while the low cost SLM system has a retail price of around € 30,000 according to Dawid Ziebura, project engineer at Fraunhofer ILT. Advantages are that beginners can learn how to use the machine within a few hours and that the components used can easily be exchanged. Ziebura explained that the low cost system mainly helps you to get started with metal 3D printing.

Parts produced with the machine are suitable for common SLM applications, including prototypes and fully functional parts. Users can determine the speed and printing quality of the system. A medium-sized component (55m³) made from stainless steel 1.4404 with a density of 99.5% can be printed within 12 hours. Additionally, user have the option to create infill for bigger parts in order to reduce the printing time for parts with less stress load.  An infill of 20% for examples enables to reduce the build time by 60%.

The team now plans to reduce the printing time and optimise the light exposure in order to enhance the quality of parts printed. Moreover, additional materials including aluminium alloys and tool steels will be added.

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