Repairing a turbine blade using laser deposition welding. Image: CHIRON

The CHIRON Group, a specialist in the field of CNC-controlled vertical milling and turning machining centers just added another string to its bow, the one of a metal 3D printer manufacturer.

AM Cube, a metal 3D printer designed for large production is the first product that demonstrates these new capabilities.  

Just like a CNC machining center, the laser metal deposition 3D printing system is based on a conventional cartesian coordinate system. It can be leveraged either with a standardized DIN ISO code or, for complex components, with a CAD/CAM software tool.  Thanks to Siemens components, it is possible to control all other aspects of the 3D Printer from hardware to the HMI through to programming of the AM Cube.

Leveraging their experience in metal machining and automation

Unlike other 3D metal printers, the print head of the CHIRON AM Cube can be changed during an active printing/ coating process. This option enables to combine different process requirements: For instance, one print head could be used to achieve a high surface quality, and another could be used to achieve a high deposition rate. The automatic head change function enables these properties to be combined in a single workpiece.

Furthermore, to allow for the machine to be flexible and to produce as much as possible, the AM Cube is equipped with a total of three print heads.

Designed for the two commonly used deposition materials – wire and powder –

The ability to develop a 3D printer for the two widely used deposition materials – wire and powder – leads to a completely new and patented technology. Both processes have their applications: While coating with powder is the most commonly used process, wire-based laser metal deposition offers better safety characteristics and an impressive reduction in waste material. Wire also has the benefit that every type of welding wire can be used for manufacturing.

The system is designed as a platform and can be reconfigured from 4-axis machining to 5-axis machining with relatively little effort. The AM Cube is equipped with cutting-edge sensors and meets all relevant safety requirements for operation without monitoring by the operator. If the AM Cube is used to machine particularly reactive materials such as titanium, the entire system can be flooded with protective gas to reduce oxidation, enabling manufacturing to be performed under a protective gas atmosphere for several hours.

A New Dynamism in its market area

“The Additive Manufacturing department is a start-up within our own business group,” explains Axel Boi, Head of Additive Manufacturing at the CHIRON Group. “With this 3D metal printer, made by CHIRON, we are creating a facility for manufacturing larger components with long procurement times and high material prices. This technology can be used effectively in the mechanical engineering, tool manufacturing, energy production and aerospace sectors. These are all important target sectors for the CHIRON Group“, states the expert.

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