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  1. #1
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    Direct metal laser sintering (DMLS)

    The process involves use of a 3D CAD model whereby a .stl file is created and sent to the machine’s software. A technician works with this 3D model to properly orient the geometry for part building and adds supports structure as appropriate. Once this "build file" has been completed, it is "sliced" into the layer thickness the machine will build in and downloaded to the DMLS machine allowing the build to begin. The DMLS machine uses a high-powered 200 watt Yb-fiber optic laser. Inside the build chamber area, there is a material dispensing platform and a build platform along with a recoater blade used to move new powder over the build platform. The technology fuses metal powder into a solid part by melting it locally using the focused laser beam. Parts are built up additively layer by layer, typically using layers 20 micrometres thick. This process allows for highly complex geometries to be created directly from the 3D CAD data, fully automatically, in hours and without any tooling. DMLS is a net-shape process, producing parts with high accuracy and detail resolution, good surface quality and excellent mechanical properties.

  2. #2
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    I had read on Bobs Cnccookbook blog about the many patents expiring soon so that we may start to see more companies enter this market. I'm sure this has excited the DIY'er hoping to build one.

    What has not been covered is the safety requirements, think grain silo explosion (on a smaller scale of course)

    Inert gases are a must as well as strict bonding/grounding to eliminate static discharge potential.

    This is something I don't think I'd want in my own garage even if only doing ferrous metals and I especially wouldn't want a next door neighbor with a home brew setup making parts with aluminum or titanium powders.

  3. #3
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    I'm working on just such a rig. It is a box about 3 x 6 x 6" in stanless steel and would be airtight to vacuum out and purge with argon. The unit would have glass windows and sit beneath an 80 watt YAG laser with galvo. Everything including the powder elevators and spreader are metal, so nothing should burn. I am working with steel powder until things are working well. I tried lighting the steel with a propane torch, and it didn't light. Titanium would not be so forgiving. I make titanium wedding rings for a living, and would like to do more like this.embraceboone.jpg

  4. #4
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    Good morning btboone,

    That's a really cool picture.

    Do I understand you correctly, you're making your own DMLS 3D Printer to make metal parts?

    Have a terrific weekend!
    Robert
    3D Accuracy
    3D ACCURACY Blog / Website | Direct Digital Manufacturing / Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing

  5. #5
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    Yes. My laser can sinter metals like brass and steel now. The unit is fully enclosed and airtight. It's meant to sit under the galvo head YAG engraving laser. It would be vacuumed out and purged with argon. Here it is with a couple walls removed. I laser cut it from .070" stainless sheet including the gears and elevator parts.


    DSCN2910.jpg

    - - - Updated - - -

    Here's another shot showing the gears and elevators.

    DSCN2914.jpg

    The elevator mechanism is simply worked with gears and a dial hand worked from the outside. It has a reduction gear, so can increment in small steps, like .002" per slice. The steel powder is about .002" spheres, so it might need thicker layers. The sweeper is manual also and is moved by cables and a crank mechanism. It's pretty much a proof of concept model. If it works by hand, it's a simple matter of adding stepper motors to do things automatically. Better to start simple and add complexity later if it's justified.

    I made it with stuff lying around the shop with tools in the shop.
    Last edited by btboone; 01-18-2014 at 06:10 PM.

  6. #6
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    Good afternoon btboone,

    Very, very cool to say the least!

    If you were to automate everything and make it with a build volume of say 12" x 12" x 8" (xyz) and a layer thickness of .0005, what might something like that cost in your estimation?

    Have a terrific weekend!
    Robert
    3D Accuracy
    3D ACCURACY Blog / Website | Direct Digital Manufacturing / Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing

  7. #7
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    The laser alone here is over $100K, so that will be the limiting factor. That can probably come down to about $15K to get a raw laser in the minimum power and then a few thousand bucks worth of mechanical stuff.

  8. #8
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    I went to a medical device manufacturing facility and they had an EOS metal printing machine. It was an $800K+ machine, and they didn't get the extra $150K option to be able to do titanium and are regretting not doing it from the start. It was pretty crazy to see some of the stainless instruments it produced. I couldn't help but to drool all over it.

    The factory had dozens of very high end machines that would run bone screws and similar things day in and day out. One part was some kind of spine clamps that were produced on a Mazak Integrex, which is a machine with a tilting milling head that also has two lathe spindles. The part was about 3" in diameter and 4" long, and was all turned and 5th axis milled out. It made something like 16 of these clamps at once. They leaving it running for 8 hours during the night and it produces the parts. That machine alone earns them about $18K a day! I was blown away with all the technology.

  9. #9
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    Here's a nice video from Trumpf:

  10. #10
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    Cost will be driven by the YAG laser. I have yet to find one with any decent power for under $15k : (
    CAD, CAM, Scanning, Modelling, Machining and more. http://www.mcpii.com/3dservices.html

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