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Concept Laser has developed the Mlab cusing machine, a compact laser melting machine for the generative production of jewellery, bracelets and watch elements.

The company said that the Mlab cusing machine represents an opportunity to introduce additive manufacturing into 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 denser surfaces and the creation of geometries not previously feasible.

In general terms, the small Mlab cusing machine represents the entry-level model to the flyweight class of laser melting with metals.

It allows the market segment for small, intricate components to be tapped into in an economically viable way, with the benefit that the additive method can also help to enhance the quality of the product.

Issues that can arise with the casting method, including cavity formation, rejects and extensive reworking, are said to be 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 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 next day.

Spontaneous requests, which are quite common from customers in these sectors, can be processed promptly.

Metal laser melting means going directly from the idea to the piece of jewellery.

The concept behind the Mlab cusing machine is suited to the production of components with delicate and intricate structures.

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 compact dimensions, measuring 705 x 1,833 x 955mm.

One special feature 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 50mm; 70 x 70mm; and 90 x 90mm.

The height of the build envelope is always 80mm.

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.

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 therefore kept safe and secure at all times and is quickly available for use in the next process.

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 laser at the heart of the system operates with a focus diameter of less than 25um in order to reproduce good surface qualities and intricate and delicate component structures.

An example of the use of Concept Laser’s metal laser melting technology is watch clasps made from stainless steel CL20ES (1.4404), and manufactured by Concept Laser’s customer Eichenberger Casting in Switzerland.

As well as the savings on time and costs, there was also a reduction in the number of production steps required.

The two-part watch clasp is then fused using the laser.

The density of the stainless steel allows the desired spring effect to be achieved.

Juan Franco, operations manager at Eichenberger Casting, said: ‘The parts display the necessary tension and therefore snap into place very well.

‘Using conventional means, this effect can only be achieved with elaborate punching and forging,’ he added.

A second example is a link bracelet produced in one working step.

Generative laser melting makes it possible to produce jewellery with integrated functions in a single process.

Link bracelets have already been made at Eichenberger Casting that have links connected to lugs.

Thanks to a design that is adapted to the laser-melting process, the flexible link bracelets can be produced in one piece.

The previous working steps, such as welding and fitting together, are now no longer required.

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 freedom of geometry.

The freedom of geometry provides the jewellery designer with new and unusual ideas for pieces of jewellery.

Pearls or precious stones can be positioned creatively, producing an innovative and appealing ‘look’.

This means that there are almost no limits on the freedom of design.

ES Technology Ltd is an Oxford company with a 22 year history of manufacturing laser-based manufacturing equipment and providing a range of associated services and products. Our four business units are. Design and build of special purpose laser systems. We use a range of industrial lasers to provide customers with turnkey machines for laser marking, cutting and welding.Systems incorporate handling such as robot, conveyor or bowl-feed; motion and control elements such as XY/rotary tables and of course the appropriate laser and beam delivery for the job.Control is via PC/PLC and dedicated front-end software provides the human interface and integrates barcode readers, vision, etc as required. Laser jobshop.We use 10 laser systems to provide laser marking on a subcontract basis on plastic, metal, ceramic or wood.Products and components receive logos, serial numbers, barcodes and other functional marks.We also perform fine metal cutting and microperforating services. Distribution of rapid prototyping/rapid manufacturing systems.ES is the exclusive UK distributor of Concept Laser LaserCUSING systems which make parts in titanium, aluminium, stainless or tool steel and inconel directly from 3D CAD designs by additive layer build. Optical components.Laser diodes, safety eyewear and acousto-optic components/wafers are distributed.

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