High global demand for generative part manufacturing with the LaserCUSING industrial 3D printing process from Concept Laser has meant that the Lichtenfels-based company in Germany is enjoying strong growth. This in turn has lead to expansion, which, the company has just announced, includes the opening of a new development centre, which was completed at the end of 2013.
According to Concept Laser, the 600 m2 R&D centre will allow for expanded testing capacity with dedicated development equipment for LaserCUSING. Furthermore, the centre offers an optimal platform for process development for development engineers, as well as for the development of new systems, such as the recent LaserCusing System X line 1000R in XXL format. Another important benefit is to facilitate “discreet innovations” enabling R&D activities with clearly defined capacities while respecting bilateral confidentiality requirements.
Concept Laser, with its strong focus on high-quality, application-specific system solutions in the fields of medical and dental technology, the automotive industry, tool and mold construction, and the highly innovative aviation and aerospace sector, will intensify its proven three-phase product development process at the new location. Initial prototype development (“Alpha Phase”) is followed by a second step of practical testing (“Beta Phase”), which culminates in the third phase: launching a concrete product on the market. “The number of test reports produced by our development department has already risen by 30% from 2012 to 2013,” explains Dr.-Ing. Florian Bechmann, Head of Development at Concept Laser. “The new development centre will raise our capabilities to a new level – in terms of time, as well as quality and quantity. As a technology leader, we want to live up to the market’s expectations.”
Being a technology leader requires investment: for Concept Laser, this means that the entire annual surplus is being reinvested in research, development and growth.
With further growth predicted, the range of lasers is also being extended; an example being the upgrade from 400 to 1,000 Watt. Furthermore, the company has announced that in the future 2 or 4 or more lasers will operate in parallel in installation areas. This so-called “multi-laser technology” will significantly improve the speed of generative component construction with the LaserCUSING process.
The new Concept Laser development centre bundles the functionalities that are relevant for LaserCUSING production, providing better networking among the fields of optical systems, design control technology and software development. Development engineers are now in closer contact, can conduct tests very rapidly and better communicate the results. Another corollary benefit is increased cooperation with students and doctoral candidates, says Bechmann: “The approximate ten ‘temporary’ employees per year can now work in the right atmosphere. It allows the various project participants to get to know us and decide to stay with us.”
The redesigned development laboratory now houses a larger metallurgy laboratory and materials testing area. This supports the growing trend of customers formulating special, application-specific requests related to the powder materials being used, which demands that the system manufacturer must then translate these into validated, certified processes. “These requirements relate to every facet of the process design, quality assurance and safety, especially for reactive materials,” says Dr. Bechmann. Concept Laser intends to further expand its recognized expertise in the area of materials and materials certification.
A busy start to the year for Concept Laser, and it only looks to be getting busier — but then, I think we can identify. I know I can!