Versatile, fast, economical
As a rule, SLM™ processes are more economical than conventional processes if production of unique pieces, customized parts, or serial production with a low quantity of pieces is required. In this type of production, the cost benefit is usually higher when the number of produced pieces is low, and the complexity of the unique piece is high and the material use is low.
Selective melting facilitates the production of more complex workpieces, which cannot be produced with other production processes or only with great (manual) effort. This way, delicate lattice, mesh or net structures, porous structures, or channels running through the workpiece in irregular patterns can be produced without a problem.
In the SLM machines by ReaLizer, functional metal pieces are produced directly from the CAD construction data in next to no time, and their mechanical properties equal the characteristics of conventionally produced workpieces.
SLM technology can also be utilized to instantaneously produce customized human implants from medical 3-D data supplied by a CT or MRT, for example.
With SLM™ technology, customized and accurately fitting dental pieces, e.g. framework, caps, or brackets made from cobalt-chromium, titanium, or gold, can be produced economically. The components are absolutely true to size and require only minimal post processing. The absolute impermeability of the parts guarantees that no bubbles will form during veneer application due to outgassing.
The picture illustrates the production process in a dental laboratory: From the workpiece directly from the machine to processing and the finished veneer.
Besides other fields, the development departments of the automobile, motorcycle, aerospace, and astronautics industries use Selective Laser Melting to produce functional prototypes from aluminium, titanium, or steel quickly and near-series without having to manufacture any tools beforehand. The process is especially suited for the production of intricate parts, such as metal sheets with large free form areas, unique specimens, or small series.
Fully operational tools, such as tools for the production of small series, can be produced with the SLM™ process quickly and economically. For injection moulding tools, the technology is deployed in the production of tool inserts with contour-close cooling channels.
Prostheses and implants
Human implants, such as joint or bone prostheses made from titanium, are manufactured with the SLM™ process. On the one hand, this involves customized and individually fitted implants based on CT or MRT data. On the other hand, serial pieces with intricate lattice structures are produced into which the bone can grow perfectly and thus – e.g. in the case of hip and knee implants – is able to form a durable and long-term fusion.
The SLM™-Technology has also found its place in the jewellery industry. Based on complex CAD data gold parts could be manufactured. With the help of new CAD programs specially designed for jewellery applications the SLM 50 machine generates marvelous parts with internal hollow and lattice structures.
The upper picture shows two polished samples generated on a SLM 50 from gold(750). The sphare has a minimum wall thickness of about 150µm. The ring has a hollow structure. The lower pictures shows the parts unpolished directly from the machine.