Concept Laser has developed the Mlab cusing, a compact laser-melting machine for the generative production of jewellery, bracelets and watch elements. The Mlab cusing machine represents an excellent opportunity to introduce additive manufacturing within these industries. Unique products and small batches can be manufactured overnight from original stainless steel or precious metal powders. In contrast to the traditional casting process, the metal laser melting method allows not only denser surfaces, but also the creation of geometries which have not previously been feasible. Creative design turns these precious pieces of jewellery into really eye-catching products.
In general terms, the small Mlab cusing machine represents the entry-level model to the ‘fly weight class’ of laser melting with metals. The Mlab cusing machine allows the market segment for small intricate components to be ‘tapped into’ in an economically viable way, with the further benefit that the additive method can also help to enhance the quality of the product. Cavity formation, rejects and extensive reworking, as can arise with the casting method, are vastly reduced by employing laser additive manufacturing.
The Mlab cusing machine combines a high degree of freedom of geometry with high quality standards. Metal laser melting is also a very contemporary method from the point of view of time. In contrast to the traditional casting method, it offers the advantage that the fully automatic production process can be allowed to run at all times, including through the night. This means that an order can be processed and delivered to the customer the very next day. Spontaneous requests, as are quite common from customers in these sectors, can be processed very promptly. Metal laser melting means going directly from the idea to the piece of jewellery.
Mlab cusing – a machine concept without compromise
The concept behind the Mlab cusing machine is ideally suited to the production of components with delicate and intricate structures. It is perfect when high surface quality and the finest component structures are what really matter. Collaboration with customers from the jewellery and dental sectors in designing the machine means that the product works well in application. The Mlab cusing has extremely compact dimensions, measuring just 705 x 1833 x 955 mm (WxHxD). One special feature of this machine is its user-friendly, pull-out drawer system. This includes both the construction and dosing chambers and the storage container. The drawer system is available with three different build envelope versions: 50 x 50, 70 x 70 and 90 x 90 mm. The height of the build envelope is always 80 mm.
Security thanks to ‘make and save’
The user can easily exchange the drawers, ensuring flexibility with the dimensions of the components. In addition, it is easy to remove the drawers for the purpose of storing materials. From the point of view of security, sales director Oliver Edelmann describes the interchangeable drawer system as embodying the “make and save principle”: “This means that high-quality gold powders can remain in the storage container following production and can be placed with the drawer into the safe of the goldsmith. The precious metal is thus kept safe and secure at all times and is quickly available for use in the next process.” His view is that this system principle offers a very persuasive argument for this group of users.
Concept Laser is launching the new Mlab range with certified materials: cobalt-chromium alloy (remanium star CL), stainless steel alloy CL 20ES (1.4404) and 18 carat yellow gold. The company has already announced that silver and other precious metal alloys will be available in 2012. The robust and powerful laser at the heart of the system, operates with a focus diameter of less than 25 µm in order to reproduce supreme surface qualities and intricate and delicate component structures.
Combined benefits – flexible production plus design freedom
Anyone wishing to switch from conventional cast production to generative production can enjoy new horizons when it comes to freedom of geometry, calculation and order throughput thanks to the Mlab cusing from Concept Laser. Pieces of jewellery can now be produced with unusual geometries. A customer’s wish for a unique design can now be fulfilled spontaneously. It is also worth mentioning the higher material density, which for high mechanical loads, offers advantages over cast parts. Cavity formation and large amounts of rework are now things of the past. The generative pieces of jewellery simply have to be separated from the construction plate, the supporting geometry removed and finally polished.
Creation of jewellery ‘on demand’ –
Generative jewellery making allows a spontaneous response to meet the specific needs of individual customers, allowing the manufacture of unique items in a short space of time. As it is no longer necessary to produce originals and wax models for a project, there are considerable time and cost savings compared with conventional methods of production. However, the metal laser-melting method should also be viewed in terms of the improvements in surface quality (no cavity formation) and above all, freedom of geometry. The freedom of geometry provides the jewellery designer with completely new and unusual ideas for pieces of jewellery. Pearls or precious stones can be positioned creatively, thus producing an innovative and appealing “look”. This means that there are almost no limits on the freedom of design.
The creative design freedom, quality benefits and single process lights out manufacturing capability combined with the compact size of the Mlab cusing system, is sure to inspire the adoption of this technology within many Jewellery workshops and Dental laboratories in the near future.