How Area Printing® Works
When we look back throughout history, there are moments where innovations and technologies create sea change for industries. The printing press. The assembly line. The semiconductor. Incredible transformations for production and value previously unheard of at their time of adoption. For metal Additive Manufacturing, Area Printing will serve as a historical turning point for an industry now equipped with limitless capabilities.
Drawing our inspiration from Georges Seurat
By applying thousands of tiny spots of pure color, French painter Georges Seurat fathered a new style of painting: pointillism. The method essentially allows a viewer's visual perception to assemble broader tones, subjects, and themes from thousands of smaller brush strokes—woven together to form masterpieces on a single canvas. From afar, the works appear painted the same way techniques devised before them had done for centuries. Up close, however, one sees the genius in the composition of seemingly endless points serving a much greater whole.
Like Georges Seurat's brush technique, Seurat Technologies applies the same basic principle to laser light and powdered materials. Unlike traditional additive manufacturing, Area Printing from Seurat uses a powerful laser containing over 2.3 million pixels—like brush strokes—to micro-weld thin metal powder layers to the area below it, manufacturing entire renderings at once in a single defined area. Area Printing connects the dots to give the world a new perspective.
Breaking out of the pack
There are a select number of profitable and AM serial production applications which can be found in the energy, medical, and aerospace sectors. Besides these high-end industries, the technology has reached a limited adoption rate. The main reason is neither due to lack of knowledge or poor performance of the technology, but rather it lays in the high total cost of ownership. Today's established metal AM technologies such as Laser Powder Bed Fusion (L-PBF) and Electron Beam Melting (EBM) cost between 1-2 $/cm³. To be competitive with traditional serial manufacturing, the cost must be reduced by more than a factor of 10 to less then 0.1 $/cm³.
How Area Printing® Works
Beam shaping of pulsed IR laser source to create a homogenous square field.
Generating projection of area pattern with blue light projector at same size as square laser beam. Aligning both light beams.
Polarizing the IR laser beam horizontally where blue and IR light “pixels” are overlapping via optically- addressable light valve (OALV). Polarizing vertically where IR and blue are not overlapping.
Splitting vertically and horizontally polarized IR laser beams. Resulting in area pattern further processed through scanner system to melt powderbed in patterned field.