12/3/2015

Optomec Introduces Process Monitoring for Hybrid CNC Machines

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Melt-pool monitoring is now available on the LENS Print Engine laser deposition head.

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Available from Optomec, Smart Additive Manufacturing (SmartAM) technology provides a closed loop control system for hybrid CNC machine tools equipped with powder-fed laser melting capability. The technology monitors and adjusts key process parameters during the build to help ensure metal parts with consistent qualities. Optomec has previously offered real-time process monitoring to control the size of the melt pool in its stand-alone LENS metal 3D printers. This technology is now available in its LENS Print Engine designed for integration with CNC mills, lathes, robots, custom gantries, and laser cutting and welding systems.

The SmartAM technology consists of focusing optics and a melt pool sensor housed within the modular LENS Print Engine deposition head. The sensor monitors the build process and control software automatically adjusts laser power to keep the area of melt pool constant. This closed loop method is said to be effective in controlling heat input and cooling rate, promoting microstructure uniformity. Maintaining the melt pool size also helps to insure geometric and dimensional integrity in the final part. According to Optomec, SmartAM also reduces laser power from the first layer to the end of the build. 

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