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CECIMO ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING News

Where manufacturing begins

GUEST WRITER - OR LASER Connects the Dots with Additive Manufacturing

The additive manufacturing (AM) sector continues to expand and evolve in terms of the technology and materials as well as applications and users. One company that has made a significant impact on this sector in all of these areas is OR LASER, headquartered in Germany. OR LASER made a successful entrance into this market in 2016 with the introduction of the accessible yet highly capable ORLAS Creator metal powder bed AM system. This was followed the subsequent year with the launch of a hybrid version of the Creator — combining advanced metal additive and subtractive processes in a single platform — together with a novel Cloud Manufacturing solution. The company’s initial success was due in large part to its heritage and expertise with industrial laser equipment which ensured reliability and flexibility. Today, the company continues to build on this success and is garnering further attention from industry through its forward thinking approach to the software and connectivity issues that will enable AM to reach its full potential.

For some years OR LASER has focused heavily on developing an advanced and integrated CAD/CAM software environment, namely the ORLAS SUITE, which supports a sophisticated manufacturing framework and enables real time operation of virtually any manufacturing platform. Building on this exceptional knowledge base OR LASER’s software experts have gone on to develop a novel Cloud Manufacturing solution that connects that manufacturing framework and will provide real time feedback and data for its AM users.

In specific terms, this means that ORLAS Creator users will have unprecedented access to their machine(s), either locally or remotely, by way of a dedicated tablet for real time control of the machine’s parameters — all enabled by a secure Cloud server. Whether for a single platform or a multi-machine set-up, each tablet can be operated using a unique hash key that can be connected to each Creator’s unique machine ID, regardless of geographic location. This in turn means that users can monitor any job running on any machine in real time. Moreover, the tablet and machine(s) can share build files and all essential process parameters through the secure cloud and complex digital workflows can be created locally and distributed to remote production environments quickly and easily.

Data collection is also an important component of the connectivity enabled by OR LASER’s cloud manufacturing solution for users, as the Cloud server can be used to gather essential data from every job running on any Creator platform. Each of the following data points can be collected and collated for each layer in the build:

• Time stamp
• Laser power
• Powder feed rate
• Coater speed
• Scanner speed
• Spot size
• Oxygen level
• Temperature
• Gas Flow
• Warnings and/or errors

Moreover, the advanced data option includes the ability to monitor and record the GCODE data for each layer as well as a picture of each layer. Subsequent to any build, users can use their dedicated tablet to access any or all of these statistics to monitor and control quality of parts and to carry out preventative maintenance operations.

Future developments with the cloud manufacturing solution for increased connectivity will include producing relevant data that can be made available to technical support operatives to facilitate improvements in the manufacturing process and to corporate management for analysis and business intelligence functions. Another further development phase will introduce a collaborative platform for resource sharing among stakeholders and, where appropriate, initiate a market place and open 3D printing bank of applications supported by the build parameter data that enables best practice.

Connectivity for AM is a major enabler for driving uptake of the technology across many industrial sectors, and OR Laser is taking it very seriously and applying it to its AM offering.

Responsible for the content of this press release: CECIMO - The European Association of the Machine Tool Industries and related Manufacturing Technologies

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