Prototyping specialist turns to laser sintering

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Rapid manufacturing and prototyping specialist, Ogle Models, has introduced a flame retardant plastic to the range of materials that it uses to produce components for customers. Designated PA 2210 FR, the powder is produced by EOS for use in its laser-sintering machines, of which Ogle operates three, two of which were bought in June 2008 as part of a £1m investment.  

The first EOS plastic laser-sintering machine, an EOSINT P 385, was installed at Letchworth in 2000, but for the past 18 months it has been working to capacity, 24 hours a day. Ogle’s rapid prototyping director, Steve Willmott, commented that the machine has been upgraded twice by EOS to take advantage of improvements in laser-sintering. The result has been a 30 per cent increase in productivity and a 50 per cent improvement in component quality.

A step-change in performance came with the installation of the two latest machines, a larger EOSINT P 730 with 700 x 380 x 580mm build volume and a smaller 200 x 250 x 330mm capacity FORMIGA P 100.

'New control software makes these machines much easier to operate,' said Willmott, 'as no guesswork or experience is needed to set the scaling factor that allows for shrinkage of the part. There is less of a problem in X and Y as shrinkage is linear, but it is non-linear in Z. The latest EOS software applies compensation in all three axes automatically, making it quicker to set up a new job.'

According to Willmott, the twin-laser P 730 is 40 per cent faster than earlier laser sintering machines, producing components that look as though they have been moulded and with better dimensional accuracy and surface finish. Key to the improvement is the 0.1 mm standard layer thickness, down from 0.15mm on the P 385.