Powder-Bed Machine Grows Large Parts
The Beta machine offers improved resolution and build rates speeds for powder-bed laser fusion.
GE Additive Group has unveiled the first Beta machine developed as part of its Project A.T.L.A.S program. The laser powder-bed fusion machine has been developed to provide manufacturers of large parts and components with a scalable solution that can be configured and customized to their own specific industry applications.
Project A.T.L.A.S (Additive Technology Large Area System) is GE Additive’s company-wide program to develop the next-generation large additive machines. This first Beta machine was developed in nine months and complements the company’s existing portfolio of products.
According to GE, the machine offers improved feature resolution and build rate speeds. Its build volume is 1.1 × 1.1 × 0.3 m, but its gantry-based, scalable architecture enables increasing the Z axis to 1.0 m or more. The machine is equipped with a 1-kW laser, a 3D scanner that translates with the laser and optimal air flow over the print area.Discrete dosing helps to save on powder and cost. Process and machine health monitoring are enabled by GE’s cloud-based Predix operating system.
Ideally suited to industries that require large complex metal parts, such as aviation, automotive, space and oil and gas industries, the Beta machine builds on technology previously developed by GE, combined with Concept Laser’s expertise in laser additive machines. The first few Beta machines are currently being evaluated by a small group of customers and more are available for delivery in 2018.
Machining a large 3D-printed part for aerospace composite tooling is fundamentally different than manufacturing the part traditionally. Baker Industries knows this first-hand.
Analyzing directed energy deposition and powder-bed fusion provides a thorough understanding of the extra machining necessary for a “near net shape” versus a “net shape” manufacturing process.
When Precision Metal Products purchased its first 3D printer last year, the company hoped to collapse both tooling costs and lead times. But the technology’s impact is reaching core business operations, enabling the shop to focus on higher-margin, lower-volume production.