2016 3D Printing Awards – Hardware category
Concept Laser GmbH from Lichtenfels, Germany is, unlike almost any other company, one of the real pioneers and key drivers of powder-bed-based laser melting with metals. We profile the firm and explore its history of creating pioneering 3D metal printing processes.
When Frank Herzog founded Concept Laser GmbH back in 2000, a metal laser melting machine was an entirely unknown quantity in the market. How is a 3D geometry created from metal powder using a laser? What does 3D printing mean or a digital process chain for the manufacturing of the future?
The answer was industrial machine technology: Concept Laser unveiled the first machine of this type in 2001 at Euromold in Frankfurt. With more than 50 patents granted today and over 100 patent applications, Frank
Herzog and his workforce of more than 170 employees continue to champion and develop the LaserCUSING® process. The company caters for the global market for laser melting machines across all different sectors from sites in Germany, the USA and China and through a network of more than 35 distribution and service partners.
Concept Laser’s high quality standards, expertise in processes, applications and materials deliver reliable and cost-effective solutions which prove their effectiveness in everyday production and are primarily aimed at reducing part costs. In addition to commercial aspects, the process offers a large number of other benefits compared to conventional methods of production: The parts are lighter, the designer has new freedoms, the topology and geometry are optimized, additional functions can be integrated, and less raw material is required. What this means is parts that were previously manufactured using machining processes are now being redesigned to fully exploit the new potential offered by additive manufacturing.
Concept Laser offers a range of small machines (50 x 50 x 80 mm3) right through to the machine with the world’s largest build envelope (800 x 400 x 500 mm3). Machines from Concept Laser that are equipped with multilaser technology are among the fastest, safest and highest quality laser melting machines in the world. More than 550 installed machines and prestigious references and projects of this Franconian ‘hidden champion’ around the globe send out a clear message and symbolize an outstanding technology for the future sealed with the endorsement ‘Made in Germany’.
For example, today the aerospace industry, automotive industry, medical technology, dental technology, toolmaking and other sectors focus strategically on 3D metal printing as the economical and highquality production strategy of the future that embraces the notion of ‘Industry 4.0.’
The patented LaserCUSING® process from Concept Laser is used to create high-precision mechanically and thermally resilient metallic components.
The term ‘LaserCUSING®,’ coined from the C in Concept Laser and the word FUSING, describes the technology: The fusing process generates components layer by layer using 3D-CAD data.
In this process, fine metal powder is melted locally by a high-energy fiber laser. The material solidifies after cooling. The contour of the component is created by redirecting the laser beam using a mirror redirection unit (scanner). The component is built up layer by layer (with a layer thickness of 15 – 500µm) by lowering the bottom of the build chamber, applying more powder and then fusing again.
What makes systems unique is its stochastic control of the slice segments (also referred to as ‘islands’) which are processed successively. This patented process ensures a significant reduction in stresses when manufacturing very large components.
Ultimately, over the course of the past 15 years LaserCUSING® has evolved the additive manufacturing of 3D components from a rapid technology to the stage of industrial series production, and the firm is looking forward to the invigorating new opportunities that the future will provide.
Company: Concept Laser GmbH
Email: [email protected]
Address: An der Zeil 8, 96215 Lichtenfels, Germany
Telephone: +49 (0) 9571 1679 0