FREE FLOAT by SLM SOLUTIONS: a “support-free future” and a “fit for any metal 3D printed part”

Free Float - SLM Solutions

It’s been a few weeks that SLM Solutions has been announcing that something unique should be added to its production portfolio and yesterday, the 3D printer manufacturer finally unveiled it. Named, “FREE FLOAT, the new addition is the most advanced software technology of the company.

While new designs are possible with Additive Manufacturing, the company notes that one of the key limitations that has been holding design freedom of most engineers is support structures. Not only do they play a key role in the cooling process by absorbing and distributing excess heat away but they also prevent part distortion.

According to the metal 3D printer manufacturer, despite their advantages, they also bring several challenges; the first one being the fact that they should be taken into account in the design equation. They increase material usage and increase post-processing time since operators absolutely need to remove them at the end of the manufacturing process.

SLM Solutions has studied the topic and developed the FREE FLOAT software with the goal of providing a more stable melt pool in thin-walled and sharp geometries leading to higher part quality.

“A fit for any metal 3D printed part”

Our team developed a tool that applied everything we learned from the development period into a convenient and easy-to-use product: Free Float. It starts with your .slm file consisting of a ready sliced part geometry, a parameter file, and support structures where they cannot be avoided. The good news: Free Float does not interfere with the vector orientation or sorting of the sliced data, nor does it manipulate process parameters allocated to a specific type, e.g., hatch or downskin. This file is then loaded into our software suite, where you can start assigning Free Float profiles right away’’, the company explains.

Users can therefore select a low, medium or high profile depending on their manufacturing purpose which means reduction of few necessary supports on non-critically angled sections (for the low profile), better surface finish or increased support reduction (for the medium one) or the maximum possible reduction of supports on the overall part (high profile).

“Today you can design bolder. Design freer. Design with fewer limitations. Today you can work faster. Work more productively. Work better. Today you can go to the place that will take you to the next level. Now that’s disruption. Every day we are pushing the limits for you, our customers. But only together can we transform the way we build. Let’s do that together”, Sam O’Leary, CEO of SLM Solutions states.

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