Two years ago, we caught up with Andreas Hartmann, CEO and CTO of Solukon to discuss the SFM-AT350, the company’s depowdering system for medium-sized metal 3D printed parts. Today, the company unveils an upgraded version of this machine, that will be commercialized under the name SFM-AT350-E.
If you’re a regular reader of 3D ADEPT Media, you might be familiar with Solukon. We have been following the automated depowdering expert since their beginnings in the AM market.
Their SFM-AT350 has been designed for medium-sized parts up to a height of 420 mm and a weight of 60 kg. It featured a more compact design and came to replace the previous model SFM-AT300, that we discovered as an ideal fit for medical 3D printed parts. Its main features then include high freedom of motion, a compact structure with optimized chamber volumes and along with it, a minimal inertization time.
With three key upgrades, Solukon has now made the SFM-AT350 even stronger. These upgrades include full compatibility with intelligent SPR-Pathfinder® depowdering software, enhanced functions of the Digital Factory Tool as well as piezoelectric excitation.
A closer look at each upgrade
Until last year, the SPR-Pathfinder® was only available for the SFM-AT800-S and SFM-AT1000-S systems. This means that operators had to program complex cleaning sequences with the SFM-AT350. With the new upgrade, the compatibility with the SPR-Pathfinder® enables the calculation of the ideal motion sequence in the Solukon system for removing excess powder from complex interior structures.
As a reminder, these calculations are based on a flow simulation that analyzes the part’s digital twin. The individually calculated motion sequence is then read by the Solukon system, which in turn runs the programmed paths.
In one of my informal conversations with Hartmann, I learned that a form of excitation in their machines was necessary to enable the build plate to easily move with the part which is why it was crucial for the manufacturer to enhance this feature. AM users using the new SFM-AT350-E could choose between two forms of excitation process: the familiar pneumatic form in conjunction with a vibrator and an optional knocker, and piezoelectric excitation – with low levels of noise emission.
In a press communication, Solukon explains that the latter option originates directly at the rotary table of the Solukon system which enables the part to be shifted to the optimal vibration range with high precision. The high frequencies of the electronic excitation are considerably higher than the harmful natural frequency of the part. As the frequency constantly controls and regulates itself, the risk of exciting the resonance frequency and damaging sensitive structures is avoided.
With piezoelectric excitation, the depowdering of parts made with difficult to depowder powders like copper becomes easier.
“The requirements for depowdering increase as part complexity, material complexity and diversity increase. Growing production quantities are also an influential factor. At the same time, our customers want us to provide systems that are very easy to operate. After experiencing a breakthrough with the launch of our smart SPR-Pathfinder® software, which calculates optimal part motion, we have achieved a further milestone upon launching the SFM-AT350-E: For any depowdering challenge, we can now offer the optimal frequency excitation,” Andreas Hartmann summarizes.
Lastly, the Digital Facotry Tool available in option comes with new tracking options and several other features that the machine manufacturer will share soon.
At the time Solukon unveiled the SFM-AT350, the company’s portfolio included four systems designed for metal 3D printed parts. Since then, the company has signed multiple partnerships to deliver automated solutions for the post-processing phase and we will continue to witness their “safe growth” in this market.
Solukon will showcase the SFM-AT350-E with SPR-Pathfinder® at Formnext 2023, in booth 12.0, D42.
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