Metal Sintering Meets Industrial Needs with the EOS M 290
Kyle Maxey posted on June 20, 2014 |
EOS’s M 290 demonstrates that the rapidly maturing metal AM field is ready for a variety of pr...

Introduced only a few weeks ago, EOS's M 290 is an enhancement of the companies M 280 system and features improved part and machine monitoring functions. Though these new features might seem to fit the mold of a routine update, rather than a complete model change, the M 290 represents a systematic improvement aimed at serving applications that demand highly accurate, high quality parts.

Central to the M 290's new monitoring abilities are a suite of 4 tools:

EOSTATE Base: This component monitors parameters within the M 290's build chamber including the build laser's power, position of the Z-axis, the build chamber's temperature, pressure and humidity – all factors that affect part quality.

EOSTATE PowderBed: Composed of a simple camera, the PowderBed monitor keeps watch over the M 290's powder deposition by taking still photos along each deposition pass.

EOSTATE LaserMonitoring: As suggested by its name the LaserMonitoring system ensures that the M 290's 400-watt laser maintains consistent power and radiation throughout the entire build process. This monitor ensures that each layer of a part is consistent with its surrounding layers and will have the same performance properties.

EOS ParameterEditor: The final piece of the M 290's improved systems is its ParameterEditor. With this tool users can create their own parameter sets to work with exotic alloys and custom component applications. Currently, the ParameterEditor lets users customize build laser power, exposure speed and build strategy. In the near future further options will be available including variable layer thickness, inert gas mix and build platform temperature.

In addition to the M 290's new monitoring equipment the metal sintering systems inherits much of its abilities from its predecessor, the M 280. Using a 400-Watt laser, the M 290 can process a variety of material ranging from steels to super alloys in its inert nitrogen or argon atmosphere.

Unlike previous EOS models the M 290 is also equipped with an optimized air circulation filter that has a self-cleaning function. Through the use of this new tool the 290 can sustain its atmospheric gas life for longer, resulting in fewer gas and filter replacements and lower operating costs.


The EOS M 290 in Action:
While EOS's M 290 and M 280 systems are primarily associated with aerospace and automotive engineering the abilities of EOS's 200-series machines are opening up new applications for metal additive manufacturing. One burgeoning area of metal AM is architectural and structural engineering.

According to Salomé Galjaard of design and engineering firm ARUP, metal AM has offered her team a unique opportunity to rethink the way they design and build structures. As part of a new experimental study, Galjaard and her team began redeveloping the geometry, production methods and structural analysis for a tensegrity structure that was used in The Hague.

Galjaard and her team have a long history developing architectural structures, meaning they have developed a very structured and systematic way approach to projects. They would design components with restrictions that are part and parcel with mass production and working with contractors, and while that method has served the architectural industry well thus far, Galjaard's team wanted to know if the introduction of metal AM would offer them a design advantage.

Almost immediately Galjaard's team realized that employing an EOS M 200 machine would mean a massive change in the way they design. Instead of working within a restrictive mass-production design plan the ARUP team could focus on mass-customization. Because each component of the redesigned tensegrity structure could be built additively and in parallel many of the aesthetic and structural compromises of their old model could be left behind. "By using additive manufacturing we can create lots of complex individually designed pieces far more efficiently," said Salomé. "[Metal AM] has tremendous implications for reducing costs and cutting waste. But most importantly, this approach potentially enables a very sophisticated design, without the need to simplify the design in a later stage to lower costs."

Salomé noted that through their redesign they realized a 50% reduction in weight, and the maraging steel they employed made their components four times stronger than traditionally manufactured parts.

Although Galjaard and ARUP are pleased with the results they've seen coming out of EOS's machines they do temper their excitement, noting that the process is still too expensive for large scale projects. "In the near future we won't be printing beams or columns," Galjaard quipped. However, metal AM has shown the ARUP team that in the future traditionally manufactured multi-component systems may vanish and be replaced with integrated AM parts. Salomé also stated that because of the AM process her team has considered experimenting with materials that would have been economically impractical to use in the past but that might have a future in AM architecture and design.

While architectural and structural engineering are only just beginning to experiment with metal AM the combination of the two fields could lead to revolutionary construction techniques and designs. For the time being, metal printers like the EOS M 290 will help guide cutting edge design. In the coming decades metal AM will continue to grow its abilities and applications, possibly maturing into a technology that guides construction and design practices from prototype through production.


Quick Facts

Manufacturer: EOS

Model: M 290

Laser Type: 400W Yb-fiber laser

Optics: F-theta-lens; high speed scanner

Material: Aluminum, Maraging Steel, Hi-Grade Steels; Titanium, Nickel & Cobalt Chrome alloys; Custom Materials available

Color: Printed object's  color depends on material's natural appearance.

Build Envelope: 249 x 249 x 325 mm (9.8 x 9.8 x 12.8 in)

Printer Dimensions: 2,500 x 1,300 x 2190 mm (98.4 x 51.2 x 86.2 in)

Printer Weight: 1,250kg (2,756lb)

Recommended Uses: Rapid Prototyping; Fit & Function Tests

Primary Industries: Automotive; Aerospace; Oil & Gas; Robotics; Architectural/Structural Components; Tooling; Medicine; Dental; Jewelry; Die Casting; Tool Repair; Product Development

Machine Price:  $700,000 - Including delivery, installation, training and a one-year service contract.


Who Should Use the EOS M 290:
The EOS M 290 is as close to an industry standard as the metal AM field can muster. For those who want to create high quality replacement or one-off parts the system is nearly unrivaled. If casting seems like too expensive or time consuming for your manufacturing needs the M 290 can deliver products equal to those of traditional casting methods.


Why Wouldn't You Use the EOS M 290:
If form and function are your main concerns when looking into an additive manufacturing machine, a cheaper SLA or FDM machine might be more suited for your needs. In the same vein, metal AM still remains an expensive manufacturing method and might not be the best option for some casting applications.

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