Trumpf Introduces Triple-Laser Fusion System for Metals

Posted Nov 18, 2017 by TRUMPF

Trumpf introduced a new and larger laser additive manufacturing system for metal components at the Formnext trade show. The TruPrint 5000 system – built around three 500 W fiber lasers and custom scanner optics – is claimed by Trumpf to be the world’s fastest and most productive medium-format 3D printing system. Based on the laser metal fusion (LMF) technique, it works by fusing metal powders layer-by-layer into desired component shapes, at speeds now said to be suitable for series production.

Trumpf will be up against rivals including SLM Solutions, the GE subsidiary Concept Laser, EOS, and 3D Systems, but claims one major advantage in the ability to source critical laser and optics technologies internally. They are the only provider anywhere in the world to combine all these competencies under the one roof.

Trumpf also has a close relationship with the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (ILT) in Aachen – the same city hosts Trumpf’s new additive development unit - and ILT researchers are among those exhibiting the latest additive technologies at the Formnext show in Frankfurt this week. As a seedbed for technologies of the future and with its proximity to RWTH Aachen University and the Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen is an ideal location to further develop Trumpf’s additive manufacturing technologies.

At Formnext, ILT developers are showing off a system featuring a multi-spot, moving laser processing head that is said to enable faster build-up speed of the metal components. Scaling up that speed to a level suitable for true volume production of metal components with additive techniques has long been identified as a key challenge to overcome.

Trumpf says that the triple-laser approach of the TruPrint 5000 is part of the solution. The three lasers are fitted with optics specially designed by Trumpf, enabling them to operate simultaneously at any point in the system's construction chamber. As a result, they can generate components much faster and more efficiently, irrespective of the number and geometry of the components. It claims that, unlike other multi-laser systems, the scanner-guided sources are able to operate anywhere within the LMF construction chamber. This makes the 3D printer particularly fast and productive and by calculating the ideal laser paths automatically, the three sources can each expose multiple parts – before the outer contours of each individual component are finished with a single beam, to deliver a seamless finish.

While some of Trumpf’s rivals at the Frankfurt show have launched additive systems capable of producing larger-sized components, it indicates that the TruPrint 5000 can make complex parts from all weldable materials, up to 300 mm in diameter and 400 mm high. Also highly automated, the new system has been used in collaboration alongside Bosch Rexroth and Heraeus Additive Manufacturing to redesign a servo valve that can be made in series production.

This involves supplementing conventionally manufactured pre-forms with 3D-printed and laser-cut parts for cost-effective manufacture of the valves. The servo valves printed by TruPrint 5000 are considerably lighter and more compact, and the optimized channel guides reduce throttle losses and increase energy efficiency. Having re-entered the market for metal additive manufacturing systems a couple of years ago, Trumpf’s roster of 3D printing systems now comprises three TruPrint LMF machines, and two TruLaser tools for metal deposition.