Metal 3D printing company Formalloy, established last January in sunny San Diego, has been keeping very busy. In addition to developing and then showcasing its flagship A222 3D printer, which uses Formalloy’s patented laser metal deposition (LMD) technology, at last year’s RAPID and Inside 3D Printing San Diego events, the company received an award as part of a Government Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program in late 2016, and earlier this summer launched its Formax Metal Deposition Head, which can be used to repair, clad, and 3D print metal parts, and set the company up as a full-suite provider of LMD components, machines, and services.
LMD technology works by using a coaxial nozzle to blow powder onto a substrate in layers, which are then melted with a laser, and it can be used to repair, modify or add on to existing parts, whether or not they are 3D printed. Now, Formalloy is releasing its newest LMD L-series machine model, which features a pretty unique capability – Blue Laser technology from NUBURU Inc. in Colorado.
In addition to the Blue wavelength laser, the turnkey system also features a customizable build volume, 5-axis capability, an inert gas build chamber, and scientific monitoring capability, and can be used to not only 3D print metallic parts, but also repair and clad them, using a wider variety of materials more accurately and quickly than other comparable processes.
“Formalloy is proud to introduce to the Additive Manufacturing world a groundbreaking technology: the Blue Wavelength Laser,” Formalloy President and Founder Jeff Riemann told 3DPrint.com. “With Blue Laser technology, Formalloy systems can now process copper alloys with greater quality and efficiency than what’s previously been possible.”
The absorption of NUBURU’s groundbreaking Blue laser on the L-series machine is 3 to 20 times better than industry-standard IR wavelength, which gives it significant process speed gains of 2 to 10 times faster. You can get higher precision, finish quality, and resolution using Blue lasers, which also allow for material processing capabilities that have low yields, or are not even possible, with standard IR lasers. In addition, the spot size of the Blue laser is over five times smaller than IR lasers, which majorly increases the resolution.Production is finished for the first machine, and will be installed at the end of this month in UC San Diego’s Department of Nanotechnology. With the release of the new L-series machine with Blue wavelength laser, Formalloy is now the first company to combine the LMD and Blue laser technologies. The company also has a pretty important customer in NASA, which is using Formalloy’s A222 machine as part of a series of R&D projects for its additive development efforts.
“NASA is leveraging Formalloy’s laser metal deposition technology for development and feasibility studies to investigate scalability of additive manufacturing for large, high value components,” said Paul Gradl, NASA Senior Propulsion Engineer. “Laser metal deposition technology is being explored as an alternative to powder bed technology for key components such as rocket nozzles.”
The space agency has completed tensile and quality testing on samples that were 3D printed on the A222, and will continue feasibility studies with Formalloy in hopes of reducing material cost, build time, and weight when producing parts like rocket engine components.
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