Prima’s 4,000 m2 Advanced Laser Centre is dedicated to the research and innovation of laser production systems. Constructed to the latest sustainable building criteria, the site uses geothermal systems and solar panels to minimise environmental impact. The facility is part of a wider programme for the renewal of the group's sites in the Turin region of Italy, which began in 2016 with the construction of the Collegno headquarters and technical centre.

In total, the investment is around €25 million. Benefits are set to include better efficiency, bringing the sites closer together in a single complex, improving the customer experience, and being able to count on a more modern and organised work environment.

During Innovation Days 2019, the latest generation of systems for the AM of metal components by Prima Additive, the Division of the Prima Industrie group specialising in turnkey solutions for AM, was presented. The innovations shown covered both types of AM technology – powder-bed fusion (PBF) and direct-energy deposition (DED) – which are available in the UK from Prima Power UK.

The latest systems have been designed following the group's ‘open innovation’ approach, which focuses on the needs and applications of customers, ensuring a close partnership with end users and a strong adherence to market demands.

Another important drive for group's innovation projects is sustainability. Following its ‘green’ vocation, Prima Industrie has developed highly energy-efficient products that reduce consumption compared with traditional systems and guarantee high performance. Prima Additive products also allow customers to embrace the business paradigm of the ‘circular economy’, which aims to maintain the value of products and materials for as long as possible, transforming resources at the end of their life cycle into new inputs in the value creation process.

Many companies in different sectors are adopting AM technologies for their production, largely to satisfy increasing requests for product customisation.

At Innovation Days, Prima Industrie presented its Print Genius 250, a PBF machine with a construction volume of 262 by 262 by 350 mm. The machine’s dual 500 W single-mode laser reduces cycle time, while the inclusion of intelligent software aids fast part orientation and definition of machine parameters. Optimised gas flow (minimising consumption) and the capability of complete material change in less than 2 hours, are further strengths of the machine.

Print Genius 250 is equipped with a two-line filter unit for the recirculation of gas inside the work area, which maintains a high degree of machine cleanliness and minimises the replacement of parts subject to wear. The newly developed HMI allows real-time monitoring of the build chamber, build plate, dispenser and re-coater, and generates reports with traceable printing parameters.

Prima’s Print Genius 250 is suitable for the processing of materials that include stainless steel, maraging steel, high-temperature nickel-base alloy (Inconel), titanium, cobalt-chromium, aluminium alloys, copper alloys and high-strength steel.

Guests were also able to see a demonstration of the Print Sharp 250 PBF, which features a construction volume of 250 by 250 by 300 mm. The system is equipped with the company’s proprietary Convergent CS450 fibre laser.

As part of the DED technology presented at Innovation Days, visitors could also witness the Laserdyne 430 DED, a compact and accurate laser metal deposition platform with a working volume of 585 by 400 by 500 mm, a high build rate (max 40-50 cm3/h, typical 20 cm3/h), and good end-part properties.

The Laserdyne 430 DED is equipped with the company’s ‘Advanced Head’, a multi-purpose DED laser head with modular design that can be mounted in different configurations to suit multiple laser processes. Some of the strengths of the head include: fusion pool monitoring; a pressurised optical path which avoids dust infiltration; and a water-cooled additive-made nozzle for continuous deposition that reduces the risk of powder adhesion during the process. The head also offers easy maintenance and fast alignment of the powder/laser spot.

The Advanced Head can be mounted on all Prima Industrie laser metal deposition machines, and is also available as part of Prima Additive's ‘Laser Metal Deposition Kit’, which includes the head, a high-efficiency laser source, a flexible powder feeder and CAM software for offline programming. Prima’s kit can be integrated into any machine or robotic system.

Finally, adding an optional ‘roto-tilting’ table increases the flexibility of the Laserdyne 430 DED as it provides two further axes for more complex applications.