12-laser Metal 3D Printer from SLM Solutions is 20X Faster than Competition

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After months of work developing a new model of metal additive printing system, selective laser melting pioneer SLM Solutions finally introduced its NXG XII 600 machine during the 2020 Formnext Connect, the digital version of the annual Formnext trade show, which this year moved online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Designed for high-volume, serial productions, the highly anticipated 12-laser machine is up to 20 times faster than a standard single laser system. The company called it a “revolution in industrial manufacturing” and expects the NXG XII 600 to change supply chains and the common inventory models forever.

With 12 simultaneously operating lasers with 1000 Watts each, numerous technological innovations, and automated features, SLM Solutions described the NXG XII 600 as faster and more productive than any other machine of its kind, and also one of the most robust. Additionally, the company stated that the radically improved use of laser time in the build process enables unrivaled build-up rates.

At the heart of the machine is a combination of cutting edge technology to create high productivity with state-of-the-art thermal management. This reduces drifts to a minimum and allows customers to print seamless parts stitched together with up its up to 12 lasers. Additionally, the machine comes with a brand-new user interface concept focusing on the operator, which optimizes the workflow, reduces training requirements, and faulty operation. By incorporating the new Machine Control System software, the core goals of the NXG XII 600 are to enhance productivity, reliability, and usability.

“The NXG Xll 600 is a revolution in industrial manufacturing. Up until now, the limit had been considered to be that of a quad laser system – what we deliver here with 12KW of installed laser power is truly ground-breaking and a major step forward, not just for additive manufacturing, but for manufacturing in general,” described Sam O’Leary, Chief Operating Officer (COO) at SLM Solutions. “The potential cost reduction and productivity gains that this machine offers you, means for the first time in the history of additive manufacturing, you can have true serial production fully integrated into your supply chain.”

Using the NXG XII 600 for high-volume, serial productions in key industries. Image courtesy of SLM Solutions

Additive manufacturing has the potential to become a new key technology for serial production, and SLM Solutions believes that its new development’s lightning-fast 3D printing is ready for immediate integration into serial production. The NXG XII 600 is expected to easily increase productivity once it becomes part of an existing supply chain, while also significantly reducing the cost per part. To facilitate its integration into factories and supply chains, several automated features were created, like an automatic build cylinder exchange, automatic build start, as well as an external preheating station, and external depowder station.

In the past years, there has been a shift towards new technologies focusing on serial additive manufacturing applications. Innovative advances in selective laser melting have enabled the production of multiple parts at the same time and we continue to see more use cases where serial production is ramping up. Moreover, 2020 has turned into a challenging year for manufacturing and supply chains as the world ground to a halt after the newly discovered coronavirus led to severe lockdown measures. That is why scaling up to serial 3D printing production represents a huge opportunity for manufacturers.

But it is not just about producing a higher yield of parts in a single build job, the new SLM Solutions’ system is also capable of printing substantially larger quality parts. Its build envelope is optimized for large parts as well as high volume productions, which is ideal for the aerospace and automotive sectors, two of the largest markets for the AM industry. Moreover, according to research by the ARC Advisory Group, combined, these two industries accounted for more than one-third of industrial system sales in 2018, so it is definitely worth leveraging new technology to assist the sectors’ transition to wider use of additive manufacturing.

SLM Solutions’ repair of airplane engine on the wing and checking mechanical systems for flight operations. Image courtesy of SLM Solutions

SLM Solutions considers its NXG XII 600 machine would enable true mass production at unbeatable low cost-per-part. The new machine was designed from scratch for serial production and features a whole new optic system, considered by the company to be the most compact on the market. It enables large overlap and is based on a tailor-made laser scanning system to best fit the build area. All 12 optics provide spot size definition via a double lens system called zoom function, enabling customers to choose between different spot sizes in the focal plane which boosts build-up rates to 1000 cubic meters per hour and more.

Some of the upsides of the machine include a printing process that does not require supports, an unrivaled output of 10.000 kilograms of produced parts per year, and no limitations when it comes to materials. The machine is actually available with two different powder handling options: a gravity-based and a vacuum-based solution, and both keep downtime between each build job to a minimum. SLM Solutions is taking orders for the NXG XII 600, considered by the company not just a breakthrough for additive manufacturing, but the start of a new era in manufacturing and metal printing.

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