The Sodick OPM250L precision metal 3D printer is an innovative manufacturing system capable of producing one-piece, metal molds used in the creation of plastic products.
With enhanced productivity, reduced lead times, and substantial cost reduction for molded products, this system achieves levels of performance not possible on conventional production systems. Moreover, the OPM250L comes prepared for integration with the Internet of Things (IoT) to allow unmanned and automated production at the manufacturing site. Designed to permit remote operation, this system significantly reduces labor costs by streamlining the production process. Sodick Group is committed to expanding its core technologies for all processes to offer one-stop solutions, following our tradition of “Creating What We Cannot Find in the World.”
Sodick proudly introduces one-stop metal 3D printing solutions
An one-stop solution of
a practicing precision metal 3D printer is proposed.
The OPM250L precision metal 3D printer allows us to offer an industry-leading “one-stop solution.”
Sodick provides an integrated support for all processes from design to molding, through its extensive technologies, including wire-cut electrical discharge machines, die-sinker electrical discharge machines, injection molding machines, as well as machining centers. Performing laser sintering and high-speed milling on the same machine permits the machining of complex molds with a high degree of freedom and high-precision finishing that is simply impossible with conventional cutting tools.
The OPM250L performs continuous laser machining and high-speed milling in a single machine. A uniform layer of metal powder (recoating process) is melted and solidified through direct metal laser sintering. This is then precision machined by high-speed milling to create a high-quality shape not attainable by additive manufacturing alone.
Sodick employs the V-LINE® system that separates the plasticization and injection processes. Adopting the proprietary V-LINE® system allows the development of a zero-backflow system. After weighing, the flow path is actively cut off before the injection operation is performed, so that all the weighed resin is injected into the mold. The introduction of the V-LINE® system brings about accurate filling volumes for more stable molding.
In addition to our proven linear motor and high-speed milling technologies, the UH Series offers practical machining simulation support software and an ergonomic, curved design. Through full linear motor operation, Sodick machining centers achieve high-speed, high-precision, high-quality machining.
The new “Arc-less” electrical discharge machining system is installed as standard to substantially shortening machining times, lowering overall costs, and reducing the number of electrodes required. Moreover, the SVC circuit rapidly creates high-quality satin or mirror surfaces.
Smart Pulse electrical discharge technology and a proprietary wire tension servo mechanism accomplish both high-speed and high-precision machining for unparalleled performance. Additionally, the FJ-AWT high-speed automatic wire threader incorporates a wire straightening function, enabling high wire threading rates. The result is reduced work hours and permits long-term, unmanned, high-speed operation.
Additive Manufacturing with Sodick’s precision Metal 3D Printer
The OPM250L is an automated machine that creates a uniform layer of metal powder in a process called laser sintering. The machine then engages in high-speed milling with rotating tools for highly accurate finishing. Sodick proudly achieves metal 3D printing through the use of a 500W fiber laser for the melting and solidification of the metal powder.
The OPM250L features a 45000 min-1spindle that achieves high-speed and high-precision machining with Sodick’s non-contact rigid linear motor drives.
An automatic tool changer (ATC) and automatic tool length measuring device are installed to allow continuous automated operation over a long period of time.
After each layer is fully machined, the workspace is recoated with metal powder and the process is repeated.
Milling is performed after 10 laser machining operations. These processes are repeated to perform 3D printing (additive manufacturing) of the workpiece.
Metal 3D printing
Mold with cooling channels
Sodick NC Unit and OS-FLASH Dedicated CAM
After designing a mold with 3D cooling channels using CAD software, a plastic temperature simulation is performed using CAE. Next, the optimized 3D CAD data is loaded into the "OS-FLASH" dedicated CAM software, which creates the NC program and directly supplies it to the LN2RP NC unit.
Accurately controls the linear motor’s precision movements according to commands from the NC unit. The K-SMC motion controllers designed and manufactured by Sodick ensure reliable control for high speed, high acceleration, and accurate positioning.
Sodick employs high-performance linear motors developed and manufactured by Sodick, replacing ball screw drives with a reliable direct drive system. These linear motors indefinitely maintain backlash-free, accurate axis movements, which is impossible with conventional ball screw drive systems. Sodick linear motors are used for all main control axes, including the drive axes for high-speed milling, to attain both high speed and high accuracy.
Sodick has mastered high-accuracy, high-speed milling technology over many years.
The OPM250L permits stable finishing for a wide range of applications by integrating proven machining expertise with this high-speed milling center.
Sodick is an expert in vacuum chamber design, with over 10 years of production experience. First designed in 2003, Sodick’s vacuum chamber technology has been tested in the PF00A/PF32A Electron Beam PIKA Finish EBM, with great success. By maintaining a high concentration of inert gas, Sodick’s vacuum chamber achieves stable and accurate laser sintering.
The expertise of experienced engineers was indispensable for conventional mold manufacturing, which required complex processes, numerous parts, and multiple machine tools.
Today, however, the OPM250L may be the only machine that encompasses a full production system to manufacture high-density, finished molds with one-piece construction.
With high-quality mold data, the OPM250L allows for unmanned manufacture of high-quality molds anywhere.
It is easy to create a “Mold Internet of Things (IoT)” to control production from a remote design department.
The result is automation with reduced lead times, lower costs, and significant labor savings. In this way, the manufacture of uniform quality products in any location can be achieved.
Sodick NC units apply the following security measures to the network connections.
LN2RP power supplies offer:
・System protection with the FBWF (File-Based Write Filter) function
・Prohibited execution of files other than CNC system files;
・Data communication between power supply and external PC using FTP;
・Prohibits connections, except to Sodick-certified USB memory
Mold manufacture requires a high sintered density (99.9% melting ratio) and highly accurate machining.
The OPM250L meets both criteria, permitting finishing (SPI-A2 class) not possible with a conventional precision metal 3D printer and can handle cavities as well as the core.
Required precision of ±1/100 mm in maraging steel
When plastic products are injection molded, the molding performance is significantly affected by the construction of the mold used.
Temperature control inside the mold is always a critical element in this aspect. The OPM250L can produce molds with 3D cooling channels freely positioned inside, eliminating uneven temperatures within the mold. It allows an ultra-high cycle rate that was impossible with a conventional mold and permits optimization of the molding shrinkage. As a bonus, these process improvements reduce the lead time by half or more.
Moldex3D plastic injection molding simulation software (Core Tech System Co., Ltd.) permits the 3D arrangement of cooling channels which can normally be arranged in two dimensions only. It also performs simulation of molded products during injection molding. Side-by-side comparisons with conventional molds confirm that deformation is lower with the 3D cooling channels.
Suppresses the deformation of the molded products by allowing conventional split molds to be made as one piece, achieving an optimal cooling channel arrangement that was not possible with conventional machine tools.
To improve cooling around the central ribs, the cooling channels are arranged to surround these areas. The interior of the cooling channels are machined to enhance surface roughness and an adequate volume of cooling medium flows through the 1.2 mm diameter channels. All machining can be performed by a single process on the OPM250L, including the many ribs arranged around the perimeter.
Mold manufacturing (sintering) time: 15Hr
Cutting time: 28Hr
Total time: 43Hr
Mold size: 60mmx40mmx40mm Z
Material: Maraging steel
Tools: 1 and 2 mm dia. ball end mills
A spiral cooling channel is placed in the difficult-to-cool protrusion in order to achieve higher cooling efficiency than normal spray or baffle cooling. Additionally, a peripheral cooling channel that uniformly cools the molded product restricts the deformation of the plastic molded product.
Mold manufacturing (sintering) time:17Hr
Total time: 42Hr
Mold size: 120mm×70mm×73mm Z(including plate size)
Material: Maraging steel
Tools: 1 and 2 mm dia. ball end mills, 1 mm dia. flat end mill
The OPM250L permits the design of spiral cooling channels inside a curved shape, which is impossible to machine with general machine tools. The high-precision processing of external shapes, including deep ribs, and machining of the internal spiral structure can be handled on a single machine.
Mold manufacturing (sintering) time:16Hr
Total time: 59Hr
Mold size: 92.1mm×36.3mm×33mm Z
Material: Maraging steel
Tools: 1 and 2 mm dia. ball end mills
Adequate cooling channels can be designed at the center of a cylinder surrounded by deep ribs to achieve a high cooling effect at the tips.
The multiple ribs can only be finished by the OPM250L, which significantly cuts the number of machining processes.
Mold manufacturing (sintering) time:29Hr
Total time: 96Hr
Mold size: 79.6mm×39.8mm×61mm Z
Material: Maraging steel
Tools: 1 and 2 mm dia. ball end mills, 1 and 4 mm dia. flat end mills
OS-FLASH is a dedicated CAM system for the OPM250L. The system inputs CAD data such as IGES, STEP, and Parasolid to create the laser and cutting data. Unique algorithms attain rapid calculations to create high-accuracy cutting passes.
By applying a 3D offset to the input 3D model, various laser data can be created, such as the two-layer structure consisting of melt parts and core parts, as well as sintering methods that create a chessboard pattern. Laser data can also be created for the STL file, allowing mold manufacture of the scanned data.
Sophisticated and rapid editing can be performed to optimize the cutting data and reduce the cutting time and cutting loads.
The cutting simulation function can be used to confirm unmachined and excessively cut sections. The mold manufacturing time calculation function calculates times by considering the movements of the machine to allow appropriate process management.
Features a 45000 min-1 spindle for high-speed milling. A CCD camera is used for laser positional correction.
A device that automates the exchange of tools between the spindle and magazine. Up to 16 tools can be set in the magazine.
Device to measure the distance between the spindle reference plane and tool tip.
The area where the tools are set in the automatic tool changer (ATC) magazine.
Supplies nitrogen gas to the machining area.
Provides laser irradiation to sinter the metal powder.
Exhaust port for the machining area.
By Adopting the wide open operation door, both pre-setting before forming and after-maintenance becomes easy.
Offers mechanisms to secure the base plate for laser sintering and set the base plate to the required height.
Mechanism to restrict the recoated area when the mold has a small surface area (optional). * Conceptual diagram
Material tank to supply material to the recoater head. The two upper pots are filled with material and loaded above the tank to fill the tank with material.
Receptacle that recovers unused material after machining is complete.