ORNL Invests in BeAM’s Modulo 400 3D Printer

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BeAM Machines introduced its Modulo 3D printing system in 2017, a 5-axis Directed Energy Deposition (DED) machine designed to be compact enough to be portable while also boasting a large build area. It comes in two sizes: the Modulo 250 and the larger Modulo 400, the latter of which has just been sold to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). ORNL is known for its advanced applications in 3D printing, from materials development to medicine, and operates out of Oak Ridge, Tennessee as the US Department of Energy’s largest science and energy laboratory.

Established in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project, ORNL has a staff of 4,750, plus visiting scientists and users numbering at 3,200. Its research is directed at solving problems in energy and security, with four major areas of focus: neutrons, computing, materials and nuclear. Its Manufacturing Demonstration Facility is the Department of Energy’s first facility dedicated to the facilitation of advanced manufacturing technologies. The MDF is where the new Modulo 400 will be installed.

The Modulo 400 was developed based on customer feedback, and has a build volume of 600 x 400 x 400 mm. It has a 10Vx Deposition Head and 500 W laser, and offers several options including a controlled atmosphere with purification system, a 24Vx Deposition Head and 2kW laser, a Renishaw RMP 40 probe, and a five-bowl powder distributor (a two-bowl powder distributor comes standard). The Modulo is designed to fit easily into a standard box truck or shipping container, making it easy to transport to and install in remote locations such as offshore oil rigs and military conflict zones.

While most DED systems place the required secondary equipment, such as a laser, chiller, and fume extractor, outside of the machine, requiring additional floor space, the Modulo integrates those components right into the machine cabinet, helping keep it compact for a printer of its size and type. 

ORNL is the latest institution to implement BeAM’s DED technology for research and development, joining other research institutions and universities such as the University of Sheffield, the Nanyang University of Technology, the ESTIA engineering school, the Ecole Polytechnique and the IRT Saint Exupéry.

BeAM was founded in 2012 with the goal of creating a new generation of DED solutions. It developed its first industrial machines in 2016 and last year expanded from its headquarters in Strasbourg, France to a US location in Cincinnati. Recently the company announced that it will also be opening a new facility in Singapore. One of its claims to fame is developing repair methods for critical aircraft engine parts that were previously deemed un-repairable, allowing them to be redeployed for use in flight.

BeAM will be in attendance as the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS), which is taking place in Chicago this week from September 10th to 15th. If you’ll be at the event, stop by and visit BeAM in the West Building Level 3, Booth #431605. The company will be displaying samples made on the Modulo 400 and its other machines, as well as giving demonstrations.

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