Additive Manufacturing

JAN 2018

ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING is the magazine devoted to industrial applications of 3D printing and digital layering technology. We cover the promise and the challenges of this technology for making functional tooling and end-use production parts.

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Page 9 of 43

JANUARY 2018 Additive Manufacturing NEWS 8 At the 2017 Formnext show, GE Additive introduced a development from its Project ATLAS, a Concept Laser machine offering a build envelope of 1.1 by 1.1 by 0.3 meter. Chris Panczyk, senior engineering section manager with GE Additive, was part of the international team (including personnel with GE in North America and GE-acquired Concept Laser in Europe) respon- sible for developing this machine. Panczyk says those envelope di- mensions are just a way station for now, not a stopping point. Because of the technology this machine employs, he says there is now no limit on the size a powder-bed AM machine might achieve. In a conversation with him at Formnext, he was unwilling to detail this technology. The machine at the show had ropes impeding attendees from getting close enough to study the mechanism of the machine's operation. But the developments employed by this machine relate to applying the ma- chine's lasers over a large area, and containing the use of the powder to only the region needed for the dimensions of the part. Part of the technique for using the lasers in a large area involves not forming all the part's cross- sectional area all at once within a given layer, but instead dividing each layer into sections. The result is a connection between sections that is cosmetically discernible in the part but not detrimental to integrity or precision. The part GE had on display showed a slight line between sections (a line more subtle than, say, the parting line in a molded part), but as evidence that consistency and precision are main- tained across this line and between sections, Panczyk pointed to the STL file's triangles that were also visible in the part's surface. These could be seen crossing the section line without discontinuity. At roughly 700 mm in diameter, the part displayed used much of the available work envelope of the machine. Panczyk says this match suggests when and how machines like this one might be developed in the future. As even bigger metal parts are found to be candidates for powder-bed AM, machines will be engineered to accomodate them. GE has also revealed another system for 3D printing large metal parts, a binder jet machine that will be available mid-2018. The Size Limit on Powder-Bed Machines Has Now Been Overcome, Says GE Innovations enabling the new ATLAS machine are scalable to even bigger parts than the component shown at Formnext. The ATLAS machine, seen here at its Formnext debut, achieves large-format powder-bed 3D printing through engineering innovations GE is not yet ready to disclose. Edited by Stephanie Hendrixson / Senior Editor

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