The long-awaited commercial product launch of the new machine architecture from Concept Laser, the M LINE FACTORY is here. This heralds a completely new approach in machine architecture and offers an unprecedented level of automation and innovation.
For the first time, part production as well as set-up and dismantling processes will take place in two independent machine units so that they can be operated physically separate from one another and can be combined however you desire. This now enables production processes to run in parallel rather than sequentially so that downtimes are considerably reduced and the availability and output quantity of the process chain is thus increased.
The M LINE FACTORY PRD, as the production unit, 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 core of the unit is three independent modules, the dose module, the build module and the overflow module, which can be individually activated for the first time and therefore do not form one continuous unit. The individual modules are moved via a tunnel system inside the machine. This means that, for example when new powder is supplied, the empty powder storage module can automatically be replaced by a new module immediately without the build process necessarily needing to be interrupted, as was previously the case. Finished build jobs can now also 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. Furthermore, a new 2-axis coating process has been implemented and this permits the return run of the coater to be performed alongside the exposure without the spatter problems that usually arise in the market today with systems that coat in both directions. This results in a substantial saving on time 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.
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. There is now no need for containers to be used for transportation between the machine and sieving station. Unpacking, preparations for the next build job and sieving therefore take place in a self-contained system without the operator coming into contact with the powder. An automated material flow is another unique selling point. This allows self-contained modules for transport and material provision to be used.
The associated software suite CL WRX 3.0 includes various user roles with different authorization 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 is that the system should also 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 that an employee can use to stay on top of things.
The modular machine technology of the M LINE FACTORY forms the core of Concept Laser’s “AM Factory of Tomorrow” concept which also makes provision for upstream and downstream stages of the production process as well as links to conventional manufacturing methods. The concept consistently implements the basic idea of “Industry 4.0” in the form of automation, interlinking, and digitization, and thus permits the economical series production of additive metal components.
The area of quality assurance and monitoring has been one of Concept Laser’s core areas of expertise for many years. It is no surprise then that our development department works feverishly to come up with new solutions in this field. The company has now unveiled its latest tool, QM Cusing Power. This tool now 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 22.214.171.124). An adapter plate for each type of machine enables easy handling. Features of QM cusing power include: power measurement from 25 – 1000 watts, data transmission by bluetooth and USB, evaluation of the measured data via the primes app, and the measurement takes place under inert gas with no additional cooling required.