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Neubeam AM Offers Real-Time In-Process Quality Assurance With Full Traceability

Featuring NeuBeam electron beam melting (EBM) technology, the new Calibur3 from UK based Wayland Additive, is capable of rapidly printing a broader range of alloys than conventional electron beam powered machines. The system’s neutral-charge beam is able to generate large parts, at higher densities, and allowing manufacturing industry to generate parts without residual stress.

NeuBeam introduces a step-change in performance and capability compared with existing metal AM machines on the market today and is described by the company as “not a me-too, copy-cat product”. NeuBeam is an entirely new, ground-breaking powder bed fusion (PBF) process and offers the opportunity to 3D print metal parts that cannot be produced today, due to current metal AM process limitations. The potential for new applications is greatly increased, because NeuBeam offers the opportunity to use a much wider range of metal materials.

NeuBeam enables the production of large parts without having to worry about residual stress or gas cross flow and without having to pre-sinter the powder bed. The printable area of the new Calibur3 system is 300 x 300 x 450 mm. NeuBeam also offers substantially reduced energy consumption and print times.

A simplified powder removal process and significantly less post-processing are ensured with NeuBeam compared with existing EBM processes providing the ability to produce fully dense parts in a wide range of metal materials.

Built-In, Real-Time, In-Process, Quality Assurance With Full Traceability

The NeuBeam process offers unprecedented levels of in-process monitoring that is achieved through a combination of advanced technologies, including structured light scanning, electron imaging and high speed infra-red cameras. These different approaches to monitoring the build are each calibrated to the same reference points in the machine, with managed adjustments, to ensure optimum results and output.

Being a true thermal process, everything in the build chamber is able to be monitored, and it’s possible to see the true temperature of the whole powder bed in-process as a build takes place. The thermal history of the material being processed can also be seen, as can the topography of the surface so that defects can be detected, and reported, as they occur. This approach allows manufacturers to achieve full quality assurance data during the build with full traceability of the material, the process and the part from start to finish.

Calibur3 incorporates an advanced and well-established high speed CMOS camera working in the NIR range and operating at four Megapixels at 100 FPS, up to a maximum of 25,000 FPS at small resolution. The IR camera is calibrated to measure temperatures in the range of 600 to 1500°C in order to provide absolute temperature measurements and cooling rates as well as being able to identify phase changes. In this way the IR Camera can provide real time temperature mapping – temperatures calculated in real time via GPU processing. Moreover, measured temperatures can be presented in 3D for improved visualisation and the resulting plot can be interactively panned, zoomed and rotated in real-time.

This type of thermal mapping can be used to monitor part dimensional accuracy, powder spreading during the build, energy absorption and any out-of-plane defects, that are not visible to the naked eye. This capability is particularly advantageous for rapid material development.

The structured light scanning system featured in the Calibur3 is based on the synchronization of a second CMOS camera and a light projector system. This system permits multiple fringe patterns to be projected onto the build area and captured by the camera. As a result, the system can calculate the z-axis height of every point on the build and thus produce an accurate height surface map of the powder bed. Any out of plane defects, on any layer in the build, caused by powder spreading or part swelling for instance, can then be easily detected and quantified.

The system allows post-build defect and quality analysis to assist with process development, but Wayland’s technology roadmap will see this integrated into closed loop machine control algorithms over the next couple of years.

The backscattered electron detector, or electron imaging, process is able to detect the primary electrons (those emitted directly from the electron gun) that have been scattered back from the nuclei of atoms in the target material. Different element compositions and phases will interact differently with the electrons and thus appear distinct within the build chamber. The BED process can also detect localized ionization in the vicinity of the meltpool. This capability is unique to Wayland Additive’s NeuBeam process and the active charge neutralization system.

Commenting at the recent launch, Will Richardson CEO of Wayland Additive said: “It was a privilege for me to explain the genesis of our work at Wayland Additive and the ‘why’ behind the NeuBeam process and Calibur3. I think the headlines speak for themselves, and all the hard work by the Wayland team that has gone into the development of the process and this new hardware platform has been realised today. Now it is our mission to really demonstrate the difference that Calibur3 can make for metal AM applications.”

Peter Hansford, Wayland’s Director of Business Development expanded further on the potential for new applications and shared the real opportunities Calibur3 brings for business: “The Calibur3 system featuring the NeuBeam process offers a true 3rd way that sits between SLM & EBM systems, and provides a leap forward compared with any existing alternatives. In addition, Calibur3 promotes innovation, which should be key to any advancement in technology. And because it overcomes the compromises that most companies have to contend with when using metal AM, they can now revisit applications that were previously seen as troublesome or impossible and/or begin development projects with a clearer view of the process and more room to operate in. NeuBeam is a metal AM process that saves both time and money from end-to-end, one that can benefit commercial objectives through true production partnerships.”

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