Solukon has introduced the SFM-PCU, an automated powder collection unit for powder handling after depowdering.
Large parts that inevitably require automated depowdering are becoming the trend in powder-based 3D printing. As a result, increasingly large quantities of powder accrue during depowdering. At the same time, more and more parts created using additive manufacturing are going into series production.
During automated depowdering in accordance with Solukon SPR technology, the powder collects in the hopper at the bottom of the Solukon SFM-AT1000-S. With the help of the integrated vacuum conveyor system, the new SFM-PCU vacuums up the powder at a sensor-monitored transfer point. It then goes through a hose and is gently transported into a large container. From there, the contaminated material can be transferred through a neutral interface to a recycling station or the like, where it is made available for further printing processes. The container is rollable and can be exchanged during the process. The filling level inside the container is scanned by a sensor and can also be checked through large inspection windows. Thanks to the direct digital connection to the Solukon depowdering system, users always have a real-time overview of the process status.
When the SFM-PCU is integrated into the system, users no longer have direct contact to the powder material during depowdering: the powder remains in a closed system at all times. “This makes it possible to meet the most stringent occupational health and safety requirements and achieve a new milestone on our path towards a dust-free factory,” said Benedikt Lutzenberger, an employee in the Product Care department and head of the SFM-PCU powder collection unit project. Since the powder no longer has to be ejected manually, larger quantities of powder can be transported away more quickly, making the depowdering process more efficient. Emptying and subsequently cleaning the Solukon depowdering system is also easier.
The powder collection unit is designed for a particularly high volume of powder, which makes it the ideal peripheral for Solukon systems in both the large part segment (SFM-AT1000-S and depending on the application, SFM-AT800-S as well) and for automated serial production. Since the container at the unit has a substantial volume of over 100 liters, one peripheral unit can be coupled to up to three single-material Solukon systems.
Inside its new powder collection unit, Solukon relies on a vacuum conveyor from the Swedish company Piab. The conveyor used in the SFM-PCU is efficient, reliable and easy to service. In the polymer sector, Solukon has used Piab conveyors in the SFP770, its automated unpacking and cleaning station, for many years. “Piab has already proved itself to be a highly competent and reliable partner for powder conveyors in the SFP770 project,” said Benedikt Lutzenberger.
Solukon is launching the SFM-PCU powder collection unit at Formnext 2023 November 7-10, Booth 12.0, D42 in Frankfurt, Germany.