Toshiba Corporation and Toshiba Machine have developed a prototype of a metal 3D printing system, that is said to deliver fabrication speeds more than 10 times faster than other powder bed fusion printers on the market.
The new 3D printer uses laser metal deposition (LMD) technology, where powdered metal is heated and sintered by a laser beam to build objects layer by layer. According to Toshiba, the key to the high speed operation is a new nozzle based on their know-how in fluid simulation technology. The nozzle reduces the area to which metal particles are deposited and the laser beam focuses very precisely on the area covered by the powder. The prototype achieves a fabrication speed of 110cc an hour with an 800-watt laser output. The printer works with a wide range of materials, including stainless steel, Inconel (nickel-chromium-based superalloys) and iron.
Toshiba and Toshiba Machine will further develop the system to increases fabrication speed and resolution and to fine-tune interfacing with 3D CAD software. The companies aim to bring the printer into practical use in or after 2017.
The prototype of the new printer by Toshiba will be showcased at “Monozukuri Matching Japan 2015” at Tokyo Big Sight from December 2 to 4.