EOS Quality leadership: Reproducible part quality in plastics-based Additive Manufacturing
Krailling, July 22, 2016 – EOS, the global technology and quality leader for high-end Additive Manufacturing (AM) solutions, offers a quality management system that is unrivalled in the industry. It comprises all technological elements from material, system and process that have a direct impact on the quality characteristics of components made with additive manufacturing. Torsten Schlichtholz, Director Global Quality Management at EOS: “By coordinating and controlling all relevant variables, EOS ensures the best possible component characteristics. In this way, we address a key concern of our growing industrial customer base, which uses our technology for the series production of plastic components with consistent component quality."
Focus on technology development and quality assurance
Technology development and quality assurance are a top priority for EOS. At the company's head office in Krailling/Germany, around 80 Additive Manufacturing systems are used in research and development, quality assurance, application and training over an area of 2,300 m², both for plastics and metals. Another 20 systems are available at the international EOS technology centers in the US, Singapore and China.
EOS materials: proven quality and traceability
Materials are one of the supporting pillars of component quality. Torsten Schlichtholz adds: “With its multi-dimensional quality management system, EOS works with its partners to ensure that each material batch has the same reliable and uniform consistency. In the supply chain, quality assurance already starts with the manufacture of the preliminary product for the EOS laser sintering material. The manufacturing process with all qualification steps is continuously documented and verifiable to the point when the EOS material is delivered to our customers."
For the manufacture of the basic product for the most frequently used plastic Polyamide 12, EOS has been working closely with Evonik Industries for many years. The starting material is subjected to an extensive and documented quality assurance procedure even before it is delivered to EOS. Thomas Große-Puppendahl, Manager of the Engineered Products line at Evonik: “Based on our special manufacturing method and almost 50 years of experience in powder technologies, we are able to create a very suitable basic product for laser sintering materials. Our quality management system, which is ISO 9001:2008 certified, comprises all relevant inspections of polymer and powder indicators, such as free-flowing properties, powder density, melt and cooling behaviour and process suitability tests."
The refining process, which is designed to achieve the best possible process suitability, is performed on EOS equipment after the inspection of the acceptance test certificate and an additional incoming goods inspection. This process is performed at KVS GmbH, which is part of EOS; this firm has worked on the development, manufacture, qualification and quality assurance of laser sintering plastic materials for 19 years, and also operates a certified QM system according to ISO 9001:2008. Defined quality assurance activities are carried out during and after the finishing process. If all criteria are met, a test report is prepared pursuant to ISO 10204 - with additional fire testing for fire-resistant materials.
In addition to the testing of the material itself, specimen and tie bars are manufactured on EOS laser sintering systems based on a reference build job, and their characteristics profile is assessed using acceptance criteria. Products are only shipped to the customer once a batch has passed both test instances. The corresponding test report, which meets the European and international standard EN 10204 3.1, is attached to each delivery, and documents the test results that are relevant to the customer. In this way, the customer obtains comprehensive documentation for his own quality management system.
EOS system: reliable compliance to production standards
Since 1998, EOS GmbH has had a certified AM system according to ISO 9001:2008 for the development, manufacture, distribution and servicing of systems, materials and solutions for Additive Manufacturing using laser sintering technology. Besides the materials, the EOS additive manufacturing systems form another important pillar for reproducible and exacting component quality. The systems are also subjected to numerous quality assurance measures, which are inspected and documented in line with the EOS machine acceptance process, during which the defined reference build jobs are prepared and subsequently checked for a number of authoritative criteria, such as mechanical properties and dimensional accuracy. These checks are performed in accordance with the currently valid international standards.
EOS process: tested and warranted parameters
The build process using the appropriate EOS parameter set forms another important element for securing uniform component quality. EOS has more than 20 years of experience in the development and improvement of process products. Standardised parameter sets are created during the material development process, which guarantee robust build processes at our customers and lead to the familiar high component qualities. During the development of the most-often used parameter sets, three build jobs are always performed on three laser sintering systems with three powder batches, in order to ensure consistent part quality at the customer in all conditions.
The relevant material data sheet provides a detailed description of the material properties that can be achieved for each material on this basis. They range all the way to mechanical indicators for tie bars, which are manufactured in all three spatial directions. With this data scope, EOS clearly distinguishes itself from all other manufacturers of powder bed-based AM solutions.
EOS is the global technology and quality leader for high-end solutions in the area of additive manufacturing (AM). The company, which was founded in 1989, is a pioneer and global leader in the area of direct metal laser sintering, and also a provider of a leading polymer technology. For these industrial 3D printing processes, EOS offers a modular solutions portfolio that consists of systems, software, materials, as well as technical and AM consulting services. EOS is the partner of choice for industrial AM-based production, and provides long-term solutions for industry. Customers using these solutions are able to take advantage of light-weight structures, cost reductions based on functional integration, product customization and accelerated product development and production.