Adira, a Portuguese producer of industrial manufacturing machines, is testing a prototype of a new SLM 3D printer for building large and high-density metal parts.
The project titled SLM-XL is conducted in collaboration with Universidade Nova de Lisboa’s engineering and technology school Instituto Superior Técnico (TECNICO LISBOA) and Manuel Conceição Graça (MCG), a Portuguese engineering firm.
SLM-XL is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (FEDER) through POR Lisboa 2020 and Programa Operacional Factores de Competitividade (COMPETE). The SLM-XL project will also see the finalization of Adira’s prototype machine.
Additive manufacturing with Tiled Laser Melting
Founded in 1956, Adira manufactures industrial manufacturing machines, such as press brakes, laser cutters, and shears. In addition to this, Adira also provides software solutions like Adbendpro, a 3D modeling software, and Cidcut, a CAM programmer for laser cutting machines.
In 2017, the Portuguese manufacturer also introduced a metal 3D printer, the AddCreator, which uses Adira’s proprietary technology known as Tiled Laser Melting (TLM). An innovative aspect of this system is its movable build chamber which moves to a new location after printing a ’tiled segment’ of the component. This allows the machine to build large metal parts.
In SLM-XL two issues in powder bed fusion (PBF) 3D printing were addressed: low density of the 3D printed parts, and limitations of the build size.
Porosity and keyhole formation are two factors which contribute to density problems. Understanding of these issues in metal 3D printing is still limited. Density problems can be solved by treating the metal printed part with a hot isostatic pressure (HIP) machine. But this is a time-consuming extra step and has significant costs.
In the SLM-XL program, imaging and scanning techniques were used to study the correlation between the density of a part and process parameters of the machine. It was concluded that to ensure more than 99% density of a part as large as 1 m³ in volume, parameters of the machine need to be adjusted as printing reaches the outer bounds of the component.
In the recent consortium, a prototype of Adira’s new SLM machine was tested using 316 L stainless steel, a commonly used metal alloy. The research also proposed a method to adjust the machine parameters.
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Featured image shows a prototype of the Adira SLM machine. Image via Adira.