12/2/2015 | 2 MINUTE READ

Software Contributes to Faster Metal AM Production

Updates to EOSystem DMLS software and systems enable users to set up jobs faster and better monitor parameters during a build.

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Though some additive manufacturing methods are faster than others, in general current production of parts through AM is a slow process and there are few ways to speed it up. Yet, a system’s software is one factor that can increase the productivity of an additive manufacturing machine. Good compatibility with existing CAD programs, ease of file transfer and user friendliness in an additive machine’s systems and software can drastically simplify job preparation and get prints started faster. Other software features such as process monitoring can also contribute to time savings by limiting downtime and alerting operators of problems during the print itself.

Saving time is one of the themes evident in the systems and software available on the EOS M 290 direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) machine. Designed to enable production of high-quality metal parts directly from CAD data, the DMLS machine’s software suite includes EOSprint, a desktop program for job preparation and calculation. With the software, a user imports the CAD file in STL (a converter is available for all standard formats) and then prepares the job file at a PC. The file is then transmitted to the EOS M 290 machine via a user’s network, easing and reducing the time spent on setup on the shop floor. And, because job preparation is done offline, the machine remains free to continue building the current job during this step, providing further time savings.

Once the file has been transferred, setting up and starting the job at the machine is simplified. The system’s touchscreen features a task-based graphical user interface designed to ease operation in a production environment, with wizard guidance for the operator. The company says it’s faster and easier to handle complex parts and large job files when job preparation and calculation are separated from the building process.

The sintering machine also features comprehensive monitoring systems for machine and process parameters to ensure that builds proceed correctly after setup. A camera in the process chamber monitors the powder bed by taking images after recoating and after exposure. The system’s EOState Base feature continuously monitors critical parameters such as Z-axis position, laser power, scanner position, humidity, temperature and pressure, and EOState Laser Monitoring measures the laser’s power throughout the entire build time. The monitoring features are designed to accommodate future integration of other monitoring features and products.

The EOS M 290 DMLS machine is equipped with a 400-W fiber laser and offers a build volume of 250 × 250 × 325 mm (9.85 × 9.85 × 12.8 inches). The machine operates with protective nitrogen as well as argon atmospheres to accommodate a range of materials, and is suitable for aerospace and medical applications, among others. 

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