HANNOVER MESSE 2019, 01 - 05 April
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Industrie 4.0

TRUMPF plans to fully automate its 3D printing

The machine tool manufacturer TRUMPF aims to integrate 3D printing into fully automated process chains. The company feels that the systems still require too much manual operation.

14 Sep. 2018
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TRUMPF plans to fully automate its 3D printing (Photo: TRUMPF GmbH + Co. KG)

The manufacturer from Ditzingen near Stuttgart is implementing an automatic lid removal on the current 3D printer model TruPrint 5000, which uses the multi-laser LMF (laser metal fusion) process. This automates the previous manual removal of two covers. The lid on the storage cylinder secures the powder-based printing material, while the cover on the process chamber maintains the inert gas atmosphere for several successive printing operations. Since the device preheats for operation up to 500 °C, removal and replacement by hand previously required significant cooling periods.

A scan field monitor also automatically readjusts the three lasers in the device if required. Although sensors based on a camera and measuring laser system check the leveling of the substrate plate, manual correction is still necessary in case of deviations. Individual quality control areas have also been fully automated at TRUMPF now. For example, a camera monitors the powder bed during the printing process (powder bed monitoring) and triggers an alarm in the event of a process error. The melt pool is also monitored (melt pool monitoring) to detect temperature deviations early on.

To advance the automation of 3D printing, manufacturers and suppliers are also leveraging other technologies, such as supplementary robots or artificial intelligence .