AMS Spring 2023

Meltio Makes Metal 3D Printing Easier with Horizon Software & Laser Calibration System

6K SmarTech

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Spanish multinational laser metal deposition (LMD) manufacturer Meltio, which began in 2019 as a joint venture between Additec and Sicnova, is working to pioneer the development of affordable metal 3D printers that are safe and reliable, and its latest solutions will help the company with its mission by facilitating easier use of its unique Wire-Laser AM technology. The new Meltio Horizon software and Laser Calibration system are said to create more accurate 3D printed parts, help engineers in their additive workflow, and knock down the barriers that keep metal AM from mainstream adoption in the world’s industrial sectors.

“We have developed the Meltio Horizon software and the Laser Calibration System with the aim of facilitating the use of Meltio’s metal 3D printing technology for industries around the world,” said Meltio CEO Ángel Llavero. “It should be noted that metal additive manufacturing has historically been associated with complex and expensive software, limited to the use of very few people because it was very specialized. At Meltio, with the launch of our new software, we facilitate and shorten the learning time for you to democratize metal 3D printing so that your software is accessible and easy to use for many different profiles within a company. The Laser Calibration System will give industrial companies a new tool to be able to work with guaranteed reliability in the creation of their metal parts.”

Until now, users of the plug-and-play Meltio M450 LMD printer have had to make do with third party FFF slicers to create toolpaths. The new proprietary Meltio Horizon is a toolpath generator software solution that offers custom print and material profiles and unique features to give M450 users a more tailored experience. All settings related to AM materials are in the software, which makes things easier by giving users full control and one single profile. Additionally, users can create more specialized print profiles, as they can directly control the hot wire and laser on what Meltio calls a “per slicing feature” basis, as opposed to being set for the full part.

This new software solution offers traditional slicing parameters used in other FFF software, including print speed, support materials, line width, and layer height, as well as material-specific parameters like laser power and hot and dual wire settings. Only settings that are relevant to Meltio’s laser-wire metal AM process are available, with explanations offered for specific settings making it easy to get started, and Meltio Horizon also makes it easy to configure and calculate the cost per part.

Additional features of Meltio Horizon include:

  • automatic updates and periodic releases of new material and printing profiles
  • 2D and 3D previews of the toolpath
  • ability to configure the gas source and cost directly within the software
  • combined material profile
  • custom build plates and workspaces
  • storage and sharing for the complete project file (model file, workspace, build plate, gas and material profiles)

Right now, the Meltio Horizon slicer is only compatible with the M450, though the company is working to develop its open software ecosystem partnerships in order to generate 5-axis G-codes for use with the Meltio Engine for both CNC and Robot Integration.

In an additional effort to improve the user experience, Meltio also launched a Laser Calibration System kit to make its printers more reliable and easier to use. The company’s technology uses six lasers, which are all aimed at a mutual point in order to melt the welding wire feedstock fed through the deposition head; this results in weld beads being stacked on top of one other in a precise way. It’s crucial that the lasers are exactly aligned so they hit the exact point where the energy is concentrated, or defects can occur on the 3D printed parts. Meltio’s new Laser Calibration System enables users to easily and accurate calibrate the multi-laser deposition head for all three of its metal AM solutions.

The accessory kit, which comes in a protective case, includes a laser alignment camera, a portable camera controller, and special software—compatible with all Meltio systems—to filter the camera image and guide the lasers to focus on the right point. The camera is placed under the printhead to give users a clear view of the focus point of the lasers, and helps reduce calibration time by half. The Laser Calibration System also keeps track of the calibration process, so you can trace your steps back when needed, and enables repeatability in the laser calibration to ensure the same level of quality for every print.

It’s possible to manually align lasers for 3D printing, but it takes a very experienced operator. Meltio claims that its new Laser Calibration System is much more consistent in aligning the lasers, and is “a major advance over the current state of general metal Additive Manufacturing (AM) solutions.” You can learn more about the company’s new Laser Calibration System, and Horizon slicer software, at formnext 2022 in Frankfurt next week; Meltio can be found at Booth C101 in Hall 12.

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