VIDEO: Achieving Single-Micron Print-Head Accuracy with Advanced Control Systems
James Anderton posted on June 13, 2017 | 2141 views

In additive manufacturing, getting precise, repeatable parts requires very careful control of the print head, the nozzle and the melt-pool.

In the video above, we get a look at how manufacturers can acquire the precision control they need by using advanced control systems.

“We’re talking about fractions of a micron and single digit microns, as far as the timing of the motion control equipment is concerned, versus where you want a laser spot placed or the number of micro-liters or nano-liters you want out of a very precision print head,” said Will Land, business development manager at Aerotech Inc.

“Precision comes down to determinism and how well you can predict and model your system. We’re able to hit high precision numbers with something like a ball-screw stage, but obviously if you want higher precision, you go to things like linear motor stages where friction is a little more predictable and loads are a little more predictable,” said Land.

“We even manufacture nano-positioning stages that use piezo-drives, we make galvanometer scanners and things that you can use to predict the friction and loading and get a better model. The better you can model anything, the better you can derive outcomes.”

When temperature is a factor, Aerotech offers their ThermoComp software feature.

“We can actively model temperatures of different internal components of a drive and then behind the scenes, change the commanded output of that stage to get the actual global position you want as a customer without worry.”

Unlike other systems, Land explains that almost none of their systems operate off “Measure and Verify” techniques.

“We do all real-time control, because if you want to overcome problems in additive where you need to coordinate subsystems like a laser or nozzle or in-situ sensors, you need to coordinate that with the motion. To do that, you need to be getting real time information about where your actual tool point is.”

To learn more about Aerotech’s motion control equipment capabilities, visit their website.

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