EOS, a developer of direct metal laser sintering technologies for additive manufacturing (DMLS), is collaborating with Plasmo Industrietechnik to develop an online monitoring system for that process. The two companies entered into a cooperative effort at the end of 2013, but the announcement was made earlier this month. Their “Melt Pool Monitoring” package is seen as a way to enhance quality assurance for additive manufacturing processes in industrial-scale operations.
The availability of the new technology was not reported.
“We have been working successfully with Plasmo for some time now,” explained Dr. Tobias Abeln, technical director at EOS. “With their know-how they are accompanying us as an expert partner in the field of manufacturing and process monitoring on our road towards additive series manufacturing.”
Plasmo Industrietechnik develops automated quality assurance systems for manufacturing, with platforms based on machine vision and analysis software, including control programs for welding processes; monitoring weld seams, geometric forms and surfaces; and laser-power measurement.
DMLS is a process that converts a CAD design of a part into .stl file format. This information is read as “layers” by a 3D printer, which deposits metal powders and fuses each success layer to the previous one using a fiber-optic laser, depositing layer after layer of the fused metal to recreate the design in three dimensions.
Details of the so-called “Melt Pool Monitoring” process were not explained, but the EOS technical director observed that “the key to successful process monitoring is the intelligence of the system.
“Many are able to record data,” Abeln explained. “Understanding the data correctly and evaluating it appropriately brings the decisive added value. Our goal is to set new benchmarks in this field, and we are very pleased to have found the optimal partner for this in Plasmo.”
Dr. Thomas Grünberger, technical director at Plasmosays, said DLMS process know-how provided by EOS would add to his own firm’s expertise in optical quality control to “fulfill the requirements of Additive Manufacturing perfectly.”
“Our monitoring system, fastprocessobserver, used in connection with the underlying powerful algorithms, is eminently suited for the very high process dynamics of additive manufacturing,” according to Grünberger.
Plasmo’s processobserver technology is a laser-power measuring system that uses two channels for non-contact process monitoring from a single device. Functional applications include geometric control of welding seams and image processing for quality control in robotic work cells.
In addition to developing AM/industrial 3D printing systems, EOS designs software and develops materials and alloys for use with its technology. It also provides engineering services for DMLS.
“A complete quality assurance chain makes a decisive contribution to boosting trust in a new technology,” according to Dr. Adrian Keppler, sales and marketing director at EOS. “The decisive factors for our customers on the road toward series manufacturing are reproducible, top-quality parts at the lowest costs per part possible. We already offer comprehensive quality assurance processes for our systems upstream and downstream of the manufacturing process. With modular online process monitoring we are extending this quality assurance by a further module, and ensuring an even greater transparency during our quite complex building process. At the same time we are making a tool available to our customers that they can use to build up their own quality assurance concept.”