Additive Manufacturing

Lasered aluminium could supplant machined car parts

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Public to get first look at machine at EuroMold 2012

The X line 1000R machine for fabricating extremely large components is scheduled to be shown to the general public for the first time at Euromold 2012, Concept Laser said, noting that a machine is already in operation at Daimler.

The X line 1000R was developed for the tool-less manufacturing of large functional components and technical prototypes with material properties that are identical throughout the range. The centrepiece of the X line 1000R consists of a high-power laser in the kilowatt range, which is said to enable an increase in productivity of up to a factor of 10 when compared to standard laser fusing machines currently available on the market.

Fast designs for complex, lightweight parts

The machine was specifically configured to cater to Daimler's special requirements for automobile applications, according to the supplier. The carmaker's goal was to replace costly sand-casting and die-casting applications in early phases of development. In addition, the machine's “LaserCUSING” process is expected to offer the possibility of generating lightweight structures with a high level of rigidity that will permit weight-optimised geometries that at present cannot be produced in this manner with the manufacturing techniques available today. Concept Laser said such components will have almost no restrictions on the design.

The company told ETMM that this process, which fuses metal powders to create parts, could be expanded to include materials such as Inconel alloys, titanium and “any metal that melts” by as early as next year.