Meltio improves the usability of LMD 3D printing with new Horizon software and Laser Calibration System
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While the former features pre-programmed print and material profiles, designed to help users get their Meltio systems up and running, the latter can be used to easily calibrate these units’ multi-laser deposition heads. Between them, the firm says its latest additions make its machines easier to use, while “eliminating the barriers” preventing metal 3D printing from addressing industrial applications.
“With the launch of our new software, we facilitate and shorten the learning time for you to democratize metal 3D printing so that your software is accessible and easy to use for many different profiles within a company,” said Meltio CEO Ángel Llavero. “The Laser Calibration System will give industrial companies a new tool to be able to work with guaranteed reliability in the creation of their metal parts.”
Laser Metal Deposition at Meltio
Founded three years ago as a joint venture between Sicnova and Additec, Meltio has built a business around a wire Laser Metal Deposition (LMD) technology. A form of Directed Energy Deposition (DED), the firm’s process sees multiple fiber-coupled diode lasers used to melt metals fed out of a central nozzle. As these lasers intersect with alloys, weld beads are formed, which can be deposited onto a substrate below layer-by-layer, as a means of producing fully-dense metal parts.
The company markets its technology in the shape of the Meltio M450 and Meltio Engine, a toolhead that can be added seamlessly onto CNC machines, robotic arms and gantry systems. Both these function using a multi-laser deposition head, containing the 1.2kW lasers needed to turn powder or wire feedstocks, including stainless steel, titanium, copper and nickel, into complex parts.
Alongside its proprietary 3D printer and LMD 3D printing engine, the firm also began selling wire-based Meltio Materials earlier this year. The move marked a change in direction for the company, whose offering had traditionally been open-material. At launch, the range was marketed as a way for adopters to achieve higher print success rates, while taking advantage of a more streamlined user experience.
Meltio’s Horizon slicer launch
With its Horizon software, Meltio has introduced a proprietary toolpath generator that can be customized to the needs of adopters’ individual applications. To date, users of the firm’s plug-and-play Meltio M450 3D printer have been forced to rely on third-party Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) slicers to prepare toolpaths for prints, but now they can access presets that streamline the whole process.
In addition to traditional slicing parameters like layer height, line width, print speed and support materials, Meltio Horizon provides access to material-specific laser power, dual wire and hot wire settings. Utilizing this functionality, users are able to create specialized printing profiles, which allow for direct control over the laser and hot wire on a ‘per slicing feature’ basis, rather than being set for the full part.
The program also comes made to measure for Meltio’s wire-laser metal 3D printing process, in a way that could provide adopters with future cost savings. Users are able to configure their gas source and cost this directly in Meltio Horizon, with flow rates being defined for each material, while its cost calculator allows each overall project to be price-modeled.
At launch, the slicer is only compatible with the M450 system, but Meltio is currently working on developing its open software ecosystem partnerships, so that it can create 5-Axis G-Codes for CNC and Robot Integration Meltio Engines.
Convenient laser calibration
Essentially an add-on for calibrating Meltio printheads, the firm’s new Laser Calibration Tool is designed to make the 3D printing process more reliable, and easier to manage. The system includes a laser alignment camera that can be placed under machines’ deposition heads, in a way that provides users with a clear view of their lasers’ focus points.
Shipped with a portable controller and software designed to filter resulting images, this kit is said to guide users’ efforts to focus each laser on the most optimal point. Compared to tricky manual calibration techniques, Meltio says its new package makes it much easier to ensure that lasers are properly aligned, and avoid issues like energy inefficiency or defects.
The whole alignment process is fast as well, with the company boasting that it’s twice as quick to carry out as manual alternatives, and once complete, it’s said to enhance Meltio 3D printing repeatability and traceability. Unlike with its Horizon software, the calibration tool is also compatible with Meltio’s M450 printer and CNC and Robot Integration Engines, making it available to the firm’s entire user base.
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Featured image shows the Meltio Laser Calibration System. Photo via Meltio.