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05 January 2011

EOS launches new metal powder laser sintering machine

Laser-sintering system manufacturer EOS has launched EOSINT M 280 for processing metal powders.

It sets new standards in terms of part quality and reproducibility, while at the same time improving cost-effectiveness and user-friendliness, claims the company.

EOSINT M 280 has all of the features and advantages of the established EOSINT M 270 – launched in 1995 and the world's best-selling metal additive manufacturing system "by far" - but includes significant technological developments.

The EOSINT M 280 is available with either the same 200 W fibre laser, as fitted to the EOSINT M 270, or with a 400 W fibre laser option. This higher power laser can melt more metal powder per second, achieving shorter build times and higher system productivity. At EuroMold, an injection mould core that was built in less than half the time was displayed, for example.

Especially for heavy use in a manufacturing environment, this enables significantly reduced cost-per-part, raising the competitiveness of laser-sintering compared to other technologies and opening up additional application areas.

Another improvement of the EOSINT M 280 is an increase in the maximum build height to 325 mm, compared with 215 mm for the M 270. This is particularly interesting for hybrid part building, a concept which EOS introduced in the 1990s for prototype tooling. In the hybrid process, complex parts are produced by building additional material on top of a prefabricated part.

Based on extensive process investigations and supported by fluid dynamics simulations, EOS has optimised the gas management system of the EOSINT M 280. A high velocity, laminar flow of protective gas across the entire build area, combined with a high capacity recirculating filter system, ensures even more uniform process conditions. As a result, stable melting behaviour is ensured, even over long periods and with higher laser power, with this resulting in further improved reproducibility of part properties.

The system is said to offer an excellent platform for further material and process developments. It also supports processes in a nitrogen gas atmosphere, created by compressed air via an integrated nitrogen generator, as well as in argon gas. Moreover, further improvements in the gas management system enable a reduction in gas consumption and prolonged filter lifetime, which further improve the cost-effectiveness and user-friendliness of the system.

The new EOSINT M 280 builds on the Part Property Management concept, which enables standardisation and comparability of building processes, based on so-called Part Property Profiles (PPP). By ensuring consistent quality throughout the process chain, EOS enables machine users to reliably produce parts based on defined material and part properties.

The EOSINT M 280 supports all the materials used in its predecessor, with equivalent or optimised parameter sets. Currently, EOS offers 10 series of materials, including the most recent EOS NickelAlloy IN625. For the 400 Watt option, faster parameter sets with corresponding PPPs will be introduced. Customers can either use the pre-qualified EOS parameter sets or develop and modify their own.

As with previous models, the system configuration can be adapted to different customer needs through a variety of options and accessories. Laser power is monitored during the building process by a facility called LPM, which reports compliance with the specifications or warns of any deviations.

With the base module of the EOSTATE 1.2 software, machine status can be monitored. Additional EOSTATE modules, Quality Assurance, Controlling and MPM (Machine Park Management) are also available. They allow a statistical overview of the built jobs and parts over freely selectable periods of time.

Integrated Process Chain Management (IPCM) modules offer optimised powder and part handling, thus ensuring increased productivity, quality and usability. These can be added at any time. In addition, EOS plans to introduce an optional glove box to enable the parts to be freed from powder inside a closed process chamber environment.

New plastic and metal materials have also been unveiled. The metal material is EOS NickelAlloy IN625, with PrimePart FR (PA 2241 FR) and PrimePart ST (PEBA 2301) plastics launched.

The new EOS NickelAlloy IN625 is a versatile material with high tensile strength, "excellent processability" and uniform corrosion resistance, making it ideally suited to use in aerospace, chemical, motorsport and marine applications.

Andrew Allcock

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