This year saw the commercial launch of the M LINE FACTORY from Concept Laser. The technology leader from Lichtenfels, already has a new innovation target in its sights: The machinery and plant manufacturer announced, in a cooperation with Swisslog, a member of the KUKA Group, is integrating an automated guided vehicle (AGV) for the automated movement of modules. Highlights from the show were the premiere of the Mlab Cusing 200R in small machine segment, as well as the presentation of the X LINE PCG in large machine segment. The availability of new precious metal alloys, a new product was also unveiled in the area of the QM modules.
M LINE FACTORY Intended to Boost 3D Metal Printing
The long-awaited commercial product launch of the new machine architecture from Concept Laser, the M LINE FACTORY, took place during the course from this year’s formnext powered by TCT. A completely new approach in machine architecture offering an unprecedented level of automation and innovation. Part production, set-up and dismantling processes will take place in two independent machine units operating physically separate from one another and then later combined.This allows production processes to run in parallel rather than sequentially reducing downtimes considerably whilst increasing the availability and output quantity of the process chain.
The M LINE FACTORY PRD, has a max. build envelope of 400 x 400 x 425 mm³ (x,y,z) and is optionally equipped with 1 to 4 laser sources, each delivering 400 W or 1,000 W of laser power. The unit contains three independent modules, the dose module, the build module and the overflow module, which are individually activated for the first time and does not need to form one continuous unit. When new powder is supplied, the empty powder storage module automatically replaces by a new module without necessarily interrupting the build process. (This was previously the case before.) Finished build jobs can be moved out of the machine with the dedicated module and replaced directly by a new prepared build module so that production operations can be resumed immediately.
The idea to create a 2-axis coating process with systems that coat in both directions has been implemented, the return run of the coater performs alongside the exposure without spatter issues has been placed as Concept Laser knew that this was a problem for most users in the market today. This results in a substantial time saving during the coating process in combination with a pursuit for the highest quality. Also under preparation is the integration of an automated tool changing system, as is the case with CNC machine technology, which promises flexibility as well as time advantages when setting up the machine, and further reduces the level of manual intervention by the operator.
Peripherals: Presentation of the X LINE PCG Unpacking Station
The physically separate, autonomous M LINE FACTORY PCG is available as the processing unit for set-up and disarming processes. This enables “optimum use windows” right through to the ideal of 24/7 availability of the machine technology. The new processing unit has an integrated sieving station and powder management. Unpacking, preparations for the next build job and sieving therefore takes place in a self-contained system without an operator coming into contact with powder. (This is recommended as an optional addition to the previous model, the X Line 1000R.) An automated material allows use of self-contained modules for transport and material provision. It is now even possible to easily clean components within an inertized chamber removing powder even in highly complex cavities and open support structures to return it to the powder circuit. The programmed pivoting about two axis allows the component to be rotated on the platform removing the excess powder. This allows the manufacturing process to proceed faster and more effectively.
The associated software suite CL WRX 3.0 includes various user roles with different authorisation levels which enables operator-specific, transparent control and monitoring of all process operations. In addition, it is an open structure with interfaces to CLS, ERP, machine technology and automation technology. The intention of the system should be able to integrate remote diagnosis, service monitoring and later also diagnostic devices. Another advantage is the connectivity with different output media such as panels, PCs, laptops, or smartphones.
The modular machine technology of the M LINE FACTORY forms the core of Concept Laser’s “AM Factory of Tomorrow” The concept consistently implements the basic idea of “Industry 4.0” in the form of automation, interlinking, and digitization, thus permitting the economical series production of additive metal components.
Machinery and Plant Technology: Premiere of the New Mlab Cusing 200R
In addition to its long-standing successful model, the Mlab cusing R, at formnext powered by TCT Concept Laser, has now unveiled its “big brother”, the Mlab cusing 200R. This makes it possible to manufacture even larger parts with much greater productivity, without the machine losing any of its familiar compactness. The features of the development include an expanded build area now covering 100 x100 mm2 (x,y), which represents an enlargement of 23%. A z-axis of an equally enlarged 100 mm makes it possible to manufacture even larger parts. With a large filter added to the machine resulting in longer running time. Lastly, a footprint-optimized design has been added with accurate part positioning thanks to a clamping system.
The intuitive design of the display allows the machine operator to maintain an overview of the process. The Mlab cusing 200R, Concept Laser offers an inertized sieving station as a stand-alone unit (QM Powder S). QM Powder S enables independent and automated sieving alongside the production process. The user can apply a 1-3 sieves units. A three-dimensional sieving motion enables optimum utilisation of the open sieve surface area. Safety was of course right at the top of the development list for the Mlab cusing 200R: The new model has water-floodable filter modules, and involves physical separation of the process and handling chambers. This is typical for Concept Laser to ensure maximum safety and easy handling. The concept of the closed system was a must-have for the Mlab 200R: All process steps take place under inert gas, shielded from external influences. The process can be called up reliably with the maximum quality level.
Visitors of formnext, also expected new materials from Concept Laser of various new precious metal alloys for use on Mlab cusing and Mlab cusing R specifically, these were: Silver alloy (930 ‰), Yellow gold (18 carat, 3N), Rose gold (18 carat, 4N), Red gold (18 carat, 5N) and Platinum alloy (950 ‰).The processing parameters are provided by Concept Laser, the materials themselves are to be procured from the relevant powder manufacturer.
QM modules: Presentation of the laser power meter QM Cusing Power
Quality assurance and monitoring has been one of Concept Laser’s core areas of expertise for many years. At formnext, the company unveiled its latest tool, QM Cusing Power. This tool enables the laser power to be measured directly on the build area. The core of this new concept is a compact measuring device with a digital display. This measuring device can be used with all machines from Concept Laser (from machine software version 188.8.131.52). An adapter plate for each type of machine enables easy handling.