GE Additive shows new Arcam 3D metal printer

GE Additive has used this week’s Rapid 2018 show in Texas, USA, to launch a new metal additive manufacturing system, the Arcam EBM Spectra H, which is designed to handle materials that need high heat but are prone to cracking such as titanium aluminide (TiAl).

GE Additive has developed this Arcam Spectra H metal additive manufacturing printer that uses electron beam melting.

The Spectra H uses Arcam’s Electron beam melting approach, which uses a high power electron beam in a vacuum at high temperature. But GE Additive has worked to improve its overall productivity to make it a more cost-effective solution. Thus, the Spectra H uses a 6kW HV-unit so that the pre- and post-heating steps take half the time compared with Arcam’s current EBM machines, greatly increasing the overall throughput.

It also gains a moveable heat shield to keep heat in the build area to improve the heat management of the system. The machine also benefits from improved an layering procedure that reduces the need for heating, and which is said to save approximately five hours for a full height build. It also has a bigger build volume from 200 x 200 x 380mm to Ø250 x 430mm.

GE Additive has focussed on developing more automation to reduce the need for manual operators and improve the overall accuracy. This latest machine uses Arcam’s new xQam automatic calibration technology to improve the position and focus accuracy, reducing the need for manual calibration and cutting the process down from three or four hours to 15 minutes. The same system will also be added to all the QPlus systems.

GE Additive has also developed an automated, self-dosing sieve and hopper filling station process that allows the powder weight to be controlled in the PRS and inside the hopper filling station. The powder hoppers are automated and close when lifted and open when mounted in the machine. There’s a single powder distribution set up for each material. The powder handling is closed to maintain batch integrity and reduce the risk of contamination. The system uses a cyclone to remove small and low-density particles, a sieve to take out coarse particles, plus there are magnetic traps.

To start with, the new machine will support both TiAl and Alloy 718 but from next year it should also support additional Ni-super alloys. GE Additive is looking at other high heat materials, including; nickel superalloys, tungsten, CoCr, stainless steel and metal matrix composites. GE Additive, which acquired a controlling stake in Arcam back in 2016, says that electron beam melting is the only commercial additive manufacturing method able to support TiAl production requirements.

Jason Oliver, president and CEO of GE Additive, commented: “This new system shows our commitment to developing industry-leading additive machines, materials, and services. We remain focused on accelerating innovation across sectors and helping the world work smarter, faster and more efficiently.”

The Spectra H will be manufactured at Arcam’s plant near Gothenburg in Sweden and should be available from Q4 2018 onwards.

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