GE Additive will begin delivering the first M Line Factory laser-based additive manufacturing systems from its Concept Laser subsidiary by mid 2019, the result of extensive beta testing. General Electric bough Concept Laser AG in late 2016 for a reported $599 million, after which M Line Factory architecture, system, and software were subjected to review and redesign, as well as testing with selected customers.
The M Line Factory series is a modular additive manufacturing platform that addresses the need for production-scale operation, including optimized production-floor space and operator requirements. It automates upstream and downstream stages of the production process and provides interfaces (automation, interlinking, digitization) to conventional manufacturing methods. While standalone machines may allow for economical series production, the M Line Factory’s modular machine architecture offers scalable automation and reliability.
GE noted that its rig and service-life testing identified several improvements that have been incorporated into the new system. This includes improved in-machine architecture and automation; enhanced serviceability, scalable modular system design and ease of service; a larger build platform (500 X 500 platform); modular onboard software system, with improved exposure strategies and real-time, in-situ process monitoring; and enhanced process control and thermal stability.
The system also includes a customized material handling function, with pre/post processing and powder management, with an integrated sieving station. System safety standards were updated too, with full powder and inert-gas containment; contact-free powder handling throughout; no manual handling in the process chamber; and water-flood passivation filters.
“The positive impact the M Line Factory can have on our customers’ operations and their bottom line is huge. It’s important we provide technologically advanced systems that are reliable and add value to our customers. M Line Factory delivers on those commitments,” said Jason Oliver, GE Additive president and CEO.