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1. WO2020221996 - ADDITIVE MANUFACTURE

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[ EN ]

Claims

1. An additive manufacturing system comprising

an additive manufacture apparatus having an energy source and a process chamber in which the energy beam is used to selectively solidify powder on a layer-by-layer basis; and

at least one powder supply module removably attachable to the additive manufacture apparatus, the powder supply module having a powder supply and a powder dispenser;

wherein the process chamber of the additive manufacturing apparatus is provided with an opening extending from the exterior of the apparatus into the chamber and the powder supply module is provided with a complementary connection interface which closes the opening and wherein the powder dispenser delivers powder into the process chamber beyond the connection interface.

2. An additive manufacturing powder supply module configured for removable attachment to an additive manufacturing apparatus, the module comprising:

a powder supply; and

a powder dispenser to dispense powder from the powder supply into the process chamber of the additive manufacturing apparatus, the powder dispenser comprising:

a powder outlet; and

a connection interface for sealingly engaging a corresponding interface of the additive manufacturing apparatus;

wherein the powder outlet dispenses powder within the process chamber of the additive manufacturing apparatus.

3. An additive manufacturing system as claimed in claim 1 or a powder supply module as claimed in claim 2, wherein the powder dispenser delivers a predetermined metered volume of powder and comprises:

a delivery member having at least one metering void extending from an inlet at a first surface to an outlet at a second opposing surface, the void(s) defining a metered volume for receiving powder;

an actuator for reciprocating the metering member between

a first position, in which the metering member is retracted and powder from the powder supply can pass through the inlet to be retained by the at least one metering void and

a second position, in which the metering member is advanced and powder retained in the at least one metering void is dispensed through the outlet;

wherein, in the second position, the outlet of the powder dispenser is within the process chamber.

4. An additive manufacturing system or powder supply module as claimed in claim 3, wherein the interface surrounds the metering member.

5. An additive manufacturing system or powder supply module as claimed in claim 3 or 4, wherein the powder dispenser comprises a body, defining a slot for slidably receiving the metering member, and a seal is provided between the body and the metering member to seal the powder dispenser when the metering member is in a retracted position.

6. An additive manufacturing system or powder supply module as claimed in claim 5, wherein the metering member is provided with a faceplate at its forward end, the faceplate providing a seal surface for sealingly engaging the body surrounding the forward end of the slot.

7. An additive manufacturing system or powder supply module as claimed in claim 5 or 6, wherein the actuator is configured to move the metering member to a third position in which the metering member is retracted beyond the second position to compress the seal.

8. An additive manufacturing system or powder supply module as claimed claim 7, wherein the actuator mechanism includes an over centre linkage such that the metering member locks into the third position.

9. An additive manufacturing system or powder supply module as claimed in any preceding claim, further comprising a powder inlet for connecting to the additive manufacturing apparatus for receiving unused powder and a recirculation loop for returning powder to the powder source.

10. An additive manufacturing system or powder supply module as claimed in any preceding claim, further comprising a supply of inert gas for maintaining the powder in an inert atmosphere.

11. An additive manufacture system as claimed in any of claims 1 or 3 to 10, wherein the opening is a slot, configured to receive the metering member such that the metering member extends through the slot in its second, advanced, position and wherein the connection interface includes a sealing face which surrounds the metering member and abuts the external surface of the process chamber when the powder supply module is attached to the additive manufacturing surface.

12. An additive manufacture system as claimed in any of claims 1 or 3 to 11, wherein the additive manufacture apparatus further comprises a recoater which travels across a powder bed in the process chamber for distributing a layer of powder thereon and wherein the powder dispenser delivers powder to the recoater.

13. A method additive manufacture, comprising:

connecting a powder supply apparatus to an additive manufacturing apparatus;

sealingly engaging a delivery portion of the powder supply apparatus to an opening in the process chamber of the additive manufacturing apparatus;

extending at least a portion of a powder dispenser through the opening in the process chamber;

dispensing powder from the powder supply apparatus via the powder dispenser; and

releasing the powder into the process chamber.

14. The method of claim 13, further comprising providing an inert atmosphere in the powder supply apparatus and process chamber.

15. The method of claim 13 or 14, further comprising releasing a metered quantity of powder into a recoater for delivering powder across a powder bed of the process chamber.