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CONCEPT Laser GmbH
 

M LINE FACTORY opens up a great deal of potential with modular machine configurations

 

Additive manufacturing is currently progressing from prototyping to production. Companies across all sectors face the challenge of how they can satisfactorily meet the increased demand in this area. More machines are required, the amount of space in production halls in often limited, the powder can no longer be easily managed with the increasing number of build jobs, and too many operators are required for all production steps.

The existing machine concept in the form of “stand-alone” solutions, barely allow economical series production under the changed frame conditions. As a technology trendsetter, Concept Laser has taken up this challenge and developed innovative solutions: The M LINE FACTORY offers a new type of modular machine architecture that allows economical series production on an industrial scale.

For the first time, part production as well as set-up and dismantling processes will take place in two independent machine units (M LINE FACTORY PRD, M LINE FACTORY PCG) so that they can be operated physically separate from one another and can be combined however you desire. This now enables production processes to run in parallel rather than sequentially so that downtimes are considerably reduced and the availability and output quantity of the process chain is thus increased.

 
 

M LINE FACTORY PCG                   M LINE FACTORY PRD

 

 

 

 

Can be combined arbitrarily: One M LINE FACTORY PCG with two M LINE FACTORY PRD units

The M LINE FACTORY PRD, as the production unit, has a max. build envelope of 400 x 400 x up to 425 mm³ (x,y,z) and is optionally equipped with 1 to 4 laser sources, each delivering 400 W or 1,000 W of laser power. The core of the unit is three independent modules, the dose module, the build module and the overflow module, which can be individually activated for the first time and therefore do not form one continuous unit. The individual modules are moved via a tunnel system inside the machine. This means that, for example when new powder is supplied, the empty dose module can automatically be replaced by a new module immediately without the build process necessarily needing to be interrupted, as was previously the case. Finished build jobs can now also be moved out of the machine with the dedicated module and replaced directly by a new prepared build module so that production operations can be resumed immediately. Furthermore, a new 2-axis coating process has been implemented and this permits the return run of the coater to be performed alongside the exposure without the spatter problems that usually arise in the market today with systems that coat in both directions. This results in a substantial saving on time during the coating process in combination with a pursuit for the highest quality. Also under preparation is the integration of an automated tool changing system, as is the case with CNC machine technology, which promises flexibility as well as time advantages when setting up the machine, and further reduces the level of manual intervention by the operator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The physically separate, autonomous M LINE FACTORY PCG is available as the processing unit for set-up and dismantling processes. This enables “optimum use windows” right through to the ideal of 24/7 availability of the machine technology. The new processing unit has an integrated sieving station and powder management. There is now no need for containers to be used for transportation between the machine and sieving station. Unpacking, preparations for the next build job and sieving therefore take place in a self-contained system without the operator coming into contact with the powder. An automated material flow is another unique selling point. This allows self-contained modules for transport and material provision to be used.

 

Elements of CL WRX 3.0 Software Suite

 

The associated software suite CL WRX 3.0 includes various user roles with different authorization levels which enables operator-specific, transparent control and monitoring of all process operations. In addition, it is an open structure with interfaces to CLS, ERP, machine technology and automation technology. The intention is that the system should also be able to integrate remote diagnosis, service monitoring and later also diagnostic devices. Another very important factor is the wide range of different output media such as panels, PCs, laptops, or smartphones that an employee can use to stay on top of things.

 

 

Concept of „AM Factory of Tomorrow“

 

 

The modular machine technology of the M LINE FACTORY forms the core of Concept Laser’s “AM Factory of Tomorrow” concept which also makes provision for upstream and downstream stages of the production process as well as links to conventional manufacturing methods. This “smart factory” is a flexibly expandable, high-grade automated and centrally controllable meta production system which is focused fully on the production assignments in hand and thus enables the economical series production of additive metal parts. The concept consistently implements the basic idea of “Industry 4.0” in the form of automation, interlinking, and digitization.