Optomec, a global supplier of production grade additive manufacturing systems for 3D printed metals and printed electronics, has made available Smart Additive Manufacturing (SmartAM™) technology for use in Hybrid CNC Machine Tools. SmartAM technology provides a closed loop control that monitors and adjusts key process parameters during the build to help ensure metal parts with consistent qualities.
In additive manufacturing, 3D metal parts are built-up layer by layer with powdered metal that is melted with a laser. As the build progresses heat build-up in the part can affect the size of the melt pool which in turn can affect the microstructural properties and dimensional accuracy of the printed metal.
SmartAM technology consists of special focusing optics and a melt pool sensor which is housed within the modular LENS Print Engine deposition head. The sensor monitors the build process and control software automatically adjusts laser power to keep the area of melt pool constant. This closed loop method is effective in controlling heat input and cooling rate, and thus promotes microstructural uniformity that defines the mechanical properties of the printed metal. Maintaining melt pool size also ensures the geometric and dimensional integrity of the final part. In actual operation SmartAM reduces laser power dramatically from the first layer to the end of the build.
SmartAM real time process monitoring and control makes it much easier for users new to additive manufacturing to successfully adopt the technology and build quality metal parts with layer to layer consistency.