Three-Dimensional (3D) printing is rapidly becoming a popular method of manufacturing. One significant benefit of 3D printing is it allows companies to quickly build complex parts in a short period of time. LEWCO recently provided a process heating cell equipped with a cabinet style batch oven and automated material handling system. The oven is used to cure metal 3D printed parts at a maximum temperature of 500°F.
The manufacturing process begins with the customer’s part being printed in a customer supplied printing tote. From there the tote is sent to the oven where it is cured at temperature for up to a couple of days. The tote then travels to the de-powder station where the excess powder is removed. Finally, the tote is sent to the storage station where the part is removed.
The batch oven, which features a workspace of 48”W x 36”D x 36”H, is manufactured and designed to NFPA 86 “Class A” standards. The oven is supplied with a top mounter heater-box with 108 kW heat input and a 1,700 CFM high-efficiency circulation fan delivering dual airflow to the workspace. The oven is equipped with 500 CFM exhaust fan to remove volatiles from the workspace and a LEL monitor to monitor the volatile level in the oven to ensure safe operating conditions. The interconnecting conveyors include a centrally located turntable with dual strand chain conveyor attached on top. Conveyors are designed to move a 4,800 LBS part. The turntable allows the tote to be sent to four different stations within the cell.
Controls include a touchscreen HMI interfaced with a PLC to allow the customer to easily control oven and conveyor operations from one convenient interface. Control functions include the ability to create, edit, and save multiple ramp/ soak recipes, control oven and conveyor operations, check oven status, and monitor, record, and retrieve process data.