Robot-guided Electrophotographic Powder Application System for Powder Bed Fusion of Metals by means of Laser Beam
Powder application remains amongst the core challenges in Powder bed based additive manufacturing. Current state of the art does hardly allow processing of powders with low flowability or the processing of multiple materials (multi-material) within one layer. In this paper, a powder application process based on electrophotography is presented to increase the flexibility of additive manufacturing processes using powder bed fusion of metals (PBF-LB/M) as specific reference. A novel conceptual design of an automated 6-axis robot- controlled prototype for electrophotographic powder application in a machine environment are shown. Experiments demonstrate single- and multi-layer powder depositions for the PBF-LB/M typical powder CW106C (CuCrZr1). A first qualitative comparison of the powder application process in the ambient media in atmospheric conditions and in an argon inert gas atmosphere is performed. With the automated powder application, the general inclusion in the PBF-LB/M cycle for multi-layer deposition and melting can be demonstrated.