15 July 2010

Concept Laser?s M1 lab machine set for dental laboratories and jewellery manufacturers

LaserCUSING®, a phrase coined from the combination of the words Concept and Fusing is a process which involves the fusion of a metallic powder by a scanning laser.

Initially targeted at the mould tool manufacturing industry for the production of mould inserts, the technology has since undergone rapid development and is truly coming of age. Today the technology is also used for direct component production within the aerospace, automotive motorsport and medical implant industries.

Introducing the unique LaserCUSING® process to a wider audience across diverse industries is one of Concept Laser‘s prime objectives. The latest development from the company has now focused LaserCUSING® on the jewellery and dental prosthesis markets, with the addition of a fourth machine to the range.

LaserCUSING® enters new application areas for compact component production
The Mlab cusing machine, to be launched at the IDS in Cologne next year, will take the technology and the ability to directly build metallic parts, into new areas with many exciting opportunities. This new machine concept is designed with smaller size components in mind and has a build envelope of 80mm x 80mm x 80mm, dimensions that are ideally suited to the dental and jewellery markets. Compact in size the Mlab cusing will easily integrate within the typical laboratory environment and will be simple to operate.

This latest addition to the Concept Laser family will allow these industries to seriously consider direct digital manufacture for custom components or short batch production. Systems currently available on the market are often not cost effective for small companies with limited funds for investment and to justify this level of expenditure, component parts manufactured on these systems could themselves be prohibitively expensive.

The Mlab cusing will provide the capability to build fully dense metallic parts in Stainless Steel, Cobalt-chrome and Precious metals, with more new developments on the horizon. Concept Laser concentrates wholly in developing and perfecting the metallic’s arena within ALM, or digital manufacture. The design features in this new Mlab cusing are targeted at new users of the technology, which are expected to generate the majority of sales.

The Mlab cusing also benefits from the ongoing research and process development within Concept Laser GmbH. The latter part of 2009 saw the introduction of a new quality assurance system. This contains individual quality modules that help to create a process which is assured, controlled and documentable. The QA system monitors the construction process in real time and encompasses all of the process components: melt pool, documentation, process gas, powder and temperature. The key element here is the real-time monitoring of the melt pool. In practice, this means monitoring the melt pool at very high sampling rates. As LaserCUSING® is a micro-welding process in a confined space — a track width of approximately 100 μm with a layer height of about 20 to 50 μm — very high resolution is required. The melt pool module follows the ongoing construction process at several thousand images per second, analysing the relevant melt-track data, which is recorded and subsequently evaluated by Concept Laser’s own software. These developments in process control plus additional developments in powder handling are evident in the quality and finish of the component part surface and structure.

When applied to applications in the medical implant and dental technology sectors, LaserCUSING® can produce components with micro-or macro-cellular structures which mimic the structure of human bone and thus combine light weight with high mechanical load–bearing capacity. For applications within the jewellery sector the freedom which the process gives to designers allows complex filigree structures to be produced which would be difficult if not impossible to produce using traditional methods.

Technology compliments traditional skills
The introduction of this new machine to the Concept Laser range will enable the technology to be adopted by forward thinking laboratories and jewellery design workshops, which can use the unique features of the process to enhance their traditional craftsman skills.
The introduction of this new machine clearly demonstrates Concept Laser’s commitment to continuous product and process development and making their technology available across a greater and more diverse customer base.

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