Page 11 - 3D Metal Printing Winter 2020
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   Solukon’s SFM-AT800 machine provides fully automated cleaning of large and complex direct laser melting metal parts with internal channels and difficult-to-access geometries, and is ideal for integration with AM production lines.
Automated Depowdering,
Include Complex Internal Channels, of Large Parts
The SFM-AT800 from Solukon, ideal for integration with automated production lines, provides fully automated cleaning of large and complex direct laser melting metal parts with internal channels and difficult-to-access geometries while requiring minimal maintenance, according to company officials. The process runs in a protected atmosphere, and powder can be collected for recycling.
The unit’s two programmable axes enable automated cleaning, as the system saves and combines several component positions with an assignment of different functions and holding times. Two safety-interlocked glove ports facilitate supplemental manual cleaning with compressed air or inert gas. The SFM-AT800 is designed without any ignition source, and the safety-monitored inert-gas-infusion system ensures protection against explosions when working with reactive metal powders. The machine can hold several compact workpieces, with an automated roof and an optional automated back door that enables access by cranes and robots.
The SFM-AT800-S, a special version of the machine, features two infinitely rotating axes with servo drives. While the standard SFM-AT800 can move a part to every 3D position, the S-version can move a part along a programmed path to depowder intricate internal channels. Codeveloped with Siemens, the S-version recently completed suc-
cessful beta testing with AM providers, according to company officials. Partnering the SFM depowdering technology with Siemens’ software allows parts to be rotat- ed in a sequence calculated from the CAD geometry to drain residual powder from conformal cooling channels and other intricate cavities. This not only saves man- ual-labor time, but also reduces waste powder and scrapped parts due to powder residue issues.
Partnership Aims to Integrate Finishing Process into
AM Value Chain
At formnext, Oerlikon AM announced a strategic alliance with Hirtenberger Engi- neered Services to further industrialize series production and prototyped parts.
Oerlikon AM and Hirtenberger began working together early in 2019 to evaluate the Hirtisation process, an AM post-pro- cessing technology that allows 3D surface treatment, including removal of support structures and automation of post-pro- cessing steps. From there, the two com- panies created a joint working group to explore how the process can be integrated into the AM value chain.
The process reportedly results in smoother surface textures, and allows for the production of complex parts that require interior support structures during production, but which need those struc- tures removed after completion, without impacting part integrity. Oerlikon and Hirtenberger expect industries that require complex parts, such as turboma- chinery, oil and gas, automotive, and gen- eral industry, to benefit most from the process.
Additionally, the two companies are working to apply the Hirtisation process to prototyping, where eliminating extra finishing steps can improve productivity.
“For Oerlikon AM, the Hirtisation process addresses one of AM’s major chal- lenges, which is to provide our customers with parts having more complex geome- tries―some of which are not possible nor economical with existing AM and post-

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