Concept Laser Reports an Increase in Sales of 88 per cent for the First Half of 2016 Compared to the Same Period Last Year

Attractive range of products and strong innovative performance boost the company’s figures

Concept Laser flying high: In the first half of 2016, the increase in sales compared to the same period in the previous year was an impressive 88 per cent.

Lichtenfels, GermanyConcept Laser is yet again able to post record figures for the first half of 2016. As the management of the company emphasises, the transition to industrial series production has really taken hold in a number of sectors. The aerospace industry in particular as well as medical technology, but there are other sectors that are increasingly committed to 3D metal printing. This again presents Concept Laser with a high level of dynamism, which is being attended to with numerous structural and organisational measures. Sales continue to perform very well. In the first half of 2016, the increase in sales compared to the same period in the previous year was an impressive 88 per cent.

Mr. Frank Herzog, President & CEO of Concept Laser GmbH.

The increase in sales therefore exceeded the target figures. Mr. Frank Herzog, President & CEO of Concept Laser, says: “The transition to the industrial series production of additively manufactured metal parts is increasingly stimulating our growth. But this is where our constant aspiration to advance the technology with further innovations and cater to the needs of the market and our customers in the best way possible is also paying off. From the end of 2016, the next logical step will then be the commercial launch of our new machine architecture.” This growth is also supported by service providers that are upgrading their fleet of machinery and installations so that they are able to cater for the great demand for additively manufactured parts made from metal. In addition, the multi-laser technology and the X line 2000R, which has the world’s largest build envelope for powder-bed-based laser melting with metals, are making their contribution to the success. The growth path has also been reflected in the number of employees, which has risen to 190 (as of June 30, 2016). As things stand today, Concept Laser also expects sales to exceed their target for the second half of 2016.

In-situ monitoring of the meltpool with QM Meltpool 3D: A photodiode and a camera monitor coaxially through the lens of the laser the precise position of the meltpool to determine its area and intensity.

 

In-situ process monitoring with QM Meltpool 3D: Pioneering role when it comes to quality assurance and monitoring

In-situ process monitoring has been one of the key strategic fields of technology for Concept Laser since as early as 2004, long before the market was demanding such a solution. This far-sighted approach resulted in the development and market launch of QM Meltpool 3D, the first process monitoring tool of its type which received the “International Additive Manufacturing Award 2016” (IAMA) at Metav 2016. QM Meltpool 3D provides quality-relevant data for process monitoring and documentation in real time, and this is absolutely essential for part manufacturing and qualification in particular for the aerospace and medical technology sectors. The system records positional characteristics of the meltpool while the part is being created. This data can be visualised on a three-dimensional map and analysed by the user. According to the manufacturer, this analytical tool is comparable to the HD resolution of computed tomography (CT). The tool also saves time and money compared to conventional part testing. But the practical added value provided by this innovation is not just an original tool for active quality assurance. In manufacturing, build jobs can be optimised through iterative variation of the parameters. Support structures can be adapted and in particular the upstream part structure can be designed to be easier to fabricate. Not least new opportunities are emerging in material research.

Basic idea behind the new machine architecture from Concept Laser: Decoupling the handling unit and process unit.

New machine architecture as the next milestone

From the end of 2016, the next milestone will be the commercial availability of the new machine architecture based on the vision of the “AM Factory of Tomorrow”. In the future, there will be stand-alone process stations for the build process with a build envelope of 400 x 400 x >400 mm³, which will have one to four laser systems featuring multi-laser technology with 400W to 1,000W laser sources. There is also a new two-axis coating process allowing the return run of the coater to be performed alongside the exposure. This results in considerable time-saving during the coating process. An automated tool changing system, as is the case with CNC machine technology, also promises a high level of flexibility, time advantages when setting up the machine, and reduces the level of manual intervention by the operator. For set-up and disarming processes, there are physically separate, autonomous handling stations. This enables “optimum use windows” right through to the ideal of 24/7 availability of the machine technology. An automated material flow is another unique selling point. This allows self-contained modules for transport and material provision to be used on the process stations. This and the decoupling of the process and handling stations simplify each production assignment. In parallel rather than sequentially: This basic idea behind the new machine architecture from Concept Laser results in increased availability and minimum downtimes. But the basic concept of the “AM Factory of Tomorrow” does in fact go beyond this approach and also envisages linking up with traditional manufacturing methods, e.g., in the post-processing of the parts. The realisation of the key idea of “Industrie 4.0” and the machine solution that users have asked for to allow the economical series production of metallic parts are being consistently implemented.

Linking together the “AM Factory of Tomorrow”: The “smart factory” is a flexibly expandable, high-grade automated and centrally controllable meta production system that is focused fully on the production assignments in hand and aims to deliver industrial series production.


All pictures courtesy of Concept Laser (unless indicated otherwise)