TCT Asia 2021 kicked off in Shanghai’s New International Expo Center on May 26, 2021, and in just two days, Chinese pioneering additive manufacturing supplier Farsoon introduced two new machines and materials. After debuting its dual fiber laser 403P PBF 3D printer during the first day of the event, the company revealed a new eight-laser powder bed fusion (PBF) platform.
The FS721M-8 large format metal system was showcased live at the company’s booth, and Farsoon kept busy, posting images of the event on its social media accounts where visitors can be seen lining up to observe the eight lasers in action. As part of the announcement, Farsoon said it would introduce the large-frame, multi-laser FS721M metal platform to the global market, offering dual and quad laser options for limited commercial orders.
Equipped with two or four lasers with 500w each, the new development is well suited to scale up metal production applications, including molds and tooling, automotive, and large-format industrial manufacturing. Boasting a 720 x 420 x 420 mm build volume, the company said it is one of the largest currently available in the metal laser powder bed fusion landscape.
Its rectangular shape is optimized for producing large parts that favor one axis and are well suited for multi-laser configurations with the standard FS721M fitted with dual 500w lasers, each laser covering half of the build plate. The FS721M can achieve a build rate of up to 160 cubic centimeters per hour at this setting. In comparison, the quad laser option can boost productivity up to 90 centimeters per hour, with each laser arranged linearly along the long axis of the build plate. This configuration is suitable for the production of multiple smaller parts with no stitch lines.
The managing director of Farsoon’s American subsidiary, Don Xu, said the FS721M has been under development for three years. During this time, the company has been testing and optimizing the multi-laser large-format metal system through continuous operation and development. While at the same time, the machine was opened to partners in China for specialized projects searching for suitable industrial applications.
“Starting 2 years ago we have seen increasing demands from industrial customers who are looking to adopt this system for scaled-up metal production. This is when we decided to take the next step to fully commercialize the FS721M system, offering as an accessible yet highly productive tool that is unique to the market,” revealed Xu, who is also the Director of the Farsoon Global Business Group.
Some key features for the FS721M highlighted by the company include high-performance fully digital optics for controlling its lasers, continuous powder feeding, optimized gas flow, and a long-lasting integrated filter module. To deliver high manufacturing quality and homogenous part properties, Farsoon adopted fully digital three-axis optics that support the development of advanced algorithmic controls and customized scanning strategies. Farsoon says that these advanced controls allow the FS721M to achieve uniform performance from one laser to the next in multi-laser overlap zones, resulting in parts that have homogenous properties across the build platform.
The FS721M is powered by Farsoon’s proprietary Makestar software package, which controls and monitors the operation of the machine, offering real-time monitoring of the built environment, including laser power, airflow, temperature, and humidity. In addition, each FS721M is equipped with in-chamber cameras, which are used to monitor and record each layer. The cameras also enable Farsoon’s real-time recoat monitoring feature, which records and analyzes each recoat layer live.
One of the biggest benefits of this new platform is the ease of use. Farsoon claims the FS721M is designed with a bundle of features that enhance the user experience and improve workplace safety. First off, it’s equipped with an advanced powder handling system that safely conveys new powder to the machines and takes away the used-up material, all done under a fully enclosed, inert environment that provides safety to the operator. The powder management system can also be configured with an integrated sieve, which creates a fully closed loop powder system for the FS721M.
Another feature that greatly enhances the user experience is the integrated breakout station attached to the FS721M. So that when it completes a build, the full build cartridge is transferred through an internal conveyor system to the breakout station. This fully enclosed workstation allows for the safe and clean removal of powder from a completed build without the user coming into contact with the powder.
Machine traits such as the powder management system and breakout station, as well as advanced calibration and electric leveling, offer users a streamlined workflow. Additionally, like all Farsoon machines, the FS721M is an open platform, resulting in a high degree of control to tailor processing parameters for application requirements or cost-competitive metal additive manufacturing.
Lately, we have seen Farsoon engaging in several partnerships and projects with world-leading companies, like specialty chemicals developer Evonik to create 3D printing materials with higher temperature resistance or one of the big innovators in the automobile sector, BMW, which has installed Farsoon HT1001P 3D printers to build a new Additive Manufacturing Campus to develop prototyping and series parts together.
This is just the latest in a series of companies announcing the addition of ever-greater numbers of lasers to their metal 3D printers, which also includes SLM Solutions, Additive Industries, 3D Systems and VELO3D. Though more lasers suggests more productivity, Executive Editor Joris Peels has warned of the complexities of multiple scan paths interfering and has urged readers to also keep an eye on such technologies as low-cost metal 3D printers, Seurat’s unique two-million-laser technology, and modular, high-throughput machines.
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