No need for sawing and wire erosion

With its new »GenChain« project, the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT promises shorter downtimes and higher automation in post-processing. The new system is based on a reusable, ceramic-coated substrate plate made and aims to simplify the further conventional processing of components manufactured by the Selective Laser Melting (SLM) process.

2020/01/25 — In the substrate plate made of high-temperature steel cylindrical pins with a diameter of five millimeters are embedded. The pins serve to connect the component to the substrate plate and can be moved and released individually. In contrast to conventional substrate plates, the ceramic coating prevents the first build-up layers of the workpiece from being applied directly to the clamping system.

After completion of the layered build-up, the workpiece can simply be transported on the substrate plate to the next work step. Referencing and clamping of the substrate plate system is done automatically by a zero point clamping system on the bottom side. After the end of the machining process, the connecting pins are simply released. The pins can be replaced cost-effectively while the substrate plate system can continue to be used.

Further processing without internal stress

The Fraunhofer IPT development team has now applied for a patent for the substrate plate technology. With the new clamping and referencing system, SLM workpieces can now be further processed on conventional machines without having to remove them from the substrate plate by mechanical processes such as sawing or wire erosion in order to be fixed in a clamping system.

According to Fraunhofer IPT, the zero-point clamping system allows for the first time to standardize the clamping and referencing process across the entire process chain. The effort required to remove the workpiece is reduced, thus. If residual stresses appear in the component, the connecting pins can be loosened after SLM production in order to allow targeted component deformation and prevent cracks.

Selective Laser Melting:

According to the AM Field Guide the SLM process is a ein Powder-Bed Fusion-process [4.2] for metal.