DCU President Brian McGrath inaugurated new Metal Additive Manufacturing Lab at DCU. The new 400k Euro Acuity MINI 3D was purchased as part of the I-Form SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing.
Aconity MINI 3D
The Aconity MINI metal additive manufacturing machine allows for the production of high quality metal parts from a metal powder feedstock. It operates by using a 200W laser to sinter (heat a metal powder to just below its melting point) after which the powder solidifies. The laser is focused and programmed to follow a particular path across the powder. As it sinters one layer of powder, another layer is deposited on top of this. The part is therefore “built” layer by layer into a 3 dimensional shape. The final shape is defined by a Computer Aided Design (CAD) file produced using Solidworks and Netfabb software packages. It is capable of printing parts of dimensions up to 140 mm diameter and 90mm height.
One key feature of the Aconity MINI installed in the NRF is the powder heating module. This allows for the global temperature of the powder to be raised up to 800 °C. This allows for higher quality parts and for part properties to be tailored for high end applications.
The ability to monitor the sintering metal layer is of significant benefit both for basic research and final part quality control. The Aconity MINI includes a process scanning unit with 2 pyrometers which can operate in 2D and 3D. This can prevent overheating in small or thin areas of a part due to the laser power being too high and allows for real time correction of process parameters to ensure high quality parts.