It marked a watershed moment in additive manufacturing when a Michigan company caused a mighty stir at RAPID 2014 with their enormous 3D print output entirely in one piece and created entirely in metal.
The EFESTO 557 large format 3D metal printer made an object 6.9' x 2.7' at the widest point, and while it took 330 hours to complete, it was a game-changer in progress.
EFESTO, specialists in large-format 3D metal printing, showed off their largest device, the EFESTO 557. The 557 features a build chamber of 1500 x 1500 x 2100 mm – or 4.9' x 4.9' x 6.9' – and yes you read that right. The laser metal deposition machine comes out of a technology developed in partnership with RPM Innovations. It's capable of outputting objects made from a wide variety of metals which include cobalt, nickle, steel, aluminum and titanium among other alloys.
Featuring what the company says is the largest argon-filled build chamber on the market, the device fabricates complex, lightweight objects, with less material waste than parts made by traditional means.
The EFESTO 557 is capable of printing functional components for the aerospace, defense, energy, mining, and construction industries.
EFESTO and RPM Innovations also recently announced a long term global strategic partnership to offer a range of professional grade, industrially hardened Laser Metal Deposition (LMD) equipment and services for the metal additive manufacturing markets.
LMD, also known as 'Powder Fed', 'Blown Powder', 'Directed Energy Deposition' or 'Laser Deposition Technology', is cutting edge stuff indeed.
Laser deposition technology is a process in which metal powder is injected into the focused beam of a high-power laser under tightly controlled atmospheric conditions shielded in argon gas. The focused laser beam melts the surface of the target material and generates a small molten pool of base material. The delivered powder is absorbed into the melt pool, thus generating a deposit that may range from 0.005" to 0.040" thick and 0.040" to 0.160" wide. The resulting deposits may then be used to build or repair metal parts for a variety of different applications.
"We met hundreds of potential and existing industrial users, and identified a large global opportunity to satisfy a glaring unmet need – the significant gap between demand and availability of truly industrial grade LMD systems and the practical experience required to ensure good results and economic viability," said Ashok Varma, CEO of EFESTO.
RPM Innovations, Inc. specializes in freeform fabrication, hybrid manufacturing and repair applications for the aerospace, defense, oil and gas, power, mining and heavy industries. RPMI has successfully manufactured some of the industry's largest metal 3D printed components using titanium and nickel super alloys in their own RPMI 557 laser systems. RPMI has manufactured its premium industrial grade RPMI 557 laser systems for in-house use since 2009 and currently operates a total of 4 machines in continuous production.