Orlas Creator is so affordable, you’ll want to buy two of them
It’s fair to say that nobody saw the Orlas Creator coming. Taking the industry by storm, OR Laser’s first play in the bed fusion printing market undercuts its rivals and introduces a rotating coater and powder feeding approach, the like of which no-one had seen before.
We caught up with Ludovico Camarda, OR Laser’s head of business development, to find out more about the process, the rationale and how the last year had been. We started by asking why a company that has been focused on lasers should choose to move into additive printing.
“We were already in that space with our direct metal deposition product,” he explained, with a nod towards OR Laser’s Diodeline products, in which lasers fuse powdered metal to build or repair casting moulds. “Eventually, we realised we’d achieved a level of maturity that allowed us to go into the powder bed fusion market where the metal is infused layer by layer. So, around three and a half years ago we started work on the Orlas Creator.”
Saving time and resources
A revolutionary product in the most literal sense, the Creator uses a rotating arm to deposit the powdered metal, and a high-power laser to fuse it. That gives the Creator a speed advantage, as the laser will always be in position, ready to print, as soon as the material has been deposited.
But, as Camarda explains, “we can also work without powder overflow. By keeping the system turning we can bring the excess powder around to the starting point again. That way we can tune the amount of material we use to be exactly the amount that we need for the building platform, plus a tiny percentage extra.”
This helps keep prices in check, since less powder will need to be sent to the overflow chamber, but there are other, less obvious advantages to printing this way. Reducing the size of the overflow and cartridge-based material feed has resulted in a smaller, more versatile machine.
A printer for every environment
“We realised that currently there was no professional machine that you could just load in an elevator and take up to a laboratory on the 17th floor of a city-centre building,” Camarda says. “Our machine is probably the only one on the market – at this level of power and professionalism – that goes through a standard door.”
Yet working with a smaller platform seems not to have hampered OR Laser’s ongoing plans.
There’s no denying that, in a smaller machine, the size of the build chamber is limited – in this case to 100mm in diameter, and 110mm in height – but Camarda sees this as a virtue.
“We have been in touch with one of the largest service provider in Europe, which has got more than 30 metal 3D printers with chambers up to 500mm. It uses them to print, among others, more than half a million dental caps every year, and said that 90% of the parts it prints will fit in the Creator’s envelope.”
Sharing the load
Why is this important? It only makes sense when you consider the Creator’s price. Launched at Formnext 2016, it attracted dozens of pre-orders over the course of the show. The printers currently retail at a level at which service bureaus can buy five Creators in place of a single, large-chambered rival.
“If you have a large 3D printer and you’re waiting to collect enough parts to fill the envelope, and then need to leave it running for 30 hours or more, what do you do with the parts that arrived immediately after you have started the machine?” Camarda asks.
“Those customers will have to wait longer unless you have more machines. Yet, with the model that we’re offering, instead of having a single machine with a 500mm envelope, you can buy five of ours and stagger their start times throughout the day, so you can guarantee shorter turn-around times for your customers.”
It is a business model that’s caught the printing industry on the hop. “Today I have people bombing me with mails and calls upping their orders,” Camarda says, “so we have a completely different problem: we don’t need to convince anybody to buy our machine, we just need to concentrate on building as many as we can.”
The revolutionary, affordable Orlas Creator is available through Laser Lines today. To get a demo and discuss how it can help accelerate your production process, call us on 01295 672599 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.