To successfully implement Intelligent Feed Forward, it is essential to have complete control of the laser powder bed fusion process. Unfortunately, most commercial AM machines restrict access thus making complete control problematic. To address this issue, we have procured a research AM machine from Fraunhoffer ILT. The system, shown in the photo below, in many ways resembles a conventional laser powder bed fusion AM machine except that it offers the opportunity to easily make changes to both hardware and software components. The scanner optics allow for on-the-fly beam size adjustment to compensate for the beam position on the build plate or to simply change the processing beam size. The "bread-board" design makes it relatively easy to change the laser sounce, the characteristics of the laser beam, or to add additional beams.
The system has a 170 mm diameter x 150 mm tall cylindrical build platform that can be heated to 1000 °C. It is controlled by Open Software code for I/O programming and has optics for coaxial process monitoring. The specifications of the system are given in the table below. System performance closely resembles commercial laser powder bed fusion AM machines with some performance measures exceeding what is available commercially.
The optics associated with the coaxial process monitoring system is shown below. It is made up of a port for a high speed CMOS camera with an associated port for a fiber illuminating laser. Two additional ports are available for other sensors such as thermography.