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nLight and EOS join forces to optimize additive techniques

18 Jun 2024

EOS production machines featuring nLight fiber lasers expected to appear later this year.

The US-based fiber and semiconductor laser maker nLight has signed a collaboration deal that will see its programmable sources used inside additive manufacturing (AM) systems sold by Germany-headquartered EOS.

The two firms announced a “letter of intent” in pursuit of a joint technology collaboration, which should see nLight’s beam-shaping fiber lasers appear inside EOS’s metal additive systems by the end of this year.

“The cooperation between nLight and EOS includes the implementation of a series of complementary laser-based technologies to optimize the AM light engine for robust industrial 3D printing production,” they said.

“nLight and EOS plan to make beam shaping and light engine optimization capabilities available digitally, enabling customers to access different beam profiles via EOS software to activate higher productivity printing."

While one EOS subsidiary - AMCM - already offers nLight’s programmable “AFX” laser in its metal AM systems, the new agreement is said to represent an evolution of the existing business relationship.

Faster printing
According to nLight, the AFX laser offers seven different beam profiles from a single laser source, ranging from an 85 µm spot size for maximum precision contours, to a 210 µm ring profile for faster printing, improved process stability, and reduced soot and spatter.

For 316L steel and aluminum, the family of lasers is said to deliver printing speeds up to three times faster than a conventional process using a standard 400 W laser.

nLight’s CEO Scott Keeney said of the collaboration: “EOS is an industry leader in additive manufacturing, and nLight is proud to partner with a company that shares our vision for bringing significant improvements to the additive manufacturing landscape.

“The teams and technologies at nLight and EOS are highly complementary; we are excited to build on the early success with AMCM to integrate our laser technologies into the wider EOS portfolio.”

News of the EOS deal comes a few months after nLight said it would need to reduce its sales expectations for 2024 following the decision by its AM customer Velo3D to review its business strategy.

Laser additive pioneer
EOS is regarded as a pioneer in the laser additive manufacturing industry, having worked on 3D printing applications with the likes of jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney, Etihad Airways, and the Formula One team Williams. It is known to have used fiber lasers from IPG Photonics in its systems.

Its CEO Marie Langer commented: “We are always researching industry leading technologies to advance the industrialization of additive manufacturing to meet the emerging application demands and exceed customer expectations.

“The flexibility and performance gains of nLight’s beam shaping and laser technologies gives us an unprecedented advancement in metal AM systems and will allow our customers to unleash a new level of productivity.”

Earlier this month EOS launched a new 3D metal printer based around two 400 W lasers, describing it as ideal for serial production, particularly for manufacturing smaller components.

It followed the release in March of a 1 kW laser powder bed fusion platform aimed at copper and copper alloy applications, for example producing more durable inductor components with complex geometries that can be fabricated as a single piece with no soldering points. That system was initially developed by the AMCM subsidiary as a custom design.

Hyperion OpticsTRIOPTICS GmbHECOPTIKABTechLaCroix Precision OpticsIridian Spectral TechnologiesMad City Labs, Inc.
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