Lichtenfels, Germany – Concept Laser, the pioneer of LaserCUSING and laser melting with metals, is turning 15. The start-up, founded in 2000, has developed rapidly over 15 years. Once an exotic out-sider, additive manufacturing methods using 3D metal printing have taken over a wide variety of in-dustrial fields during those 15 years.
"The tide has turned," says Frank Herzog, founder, CEO, and president of Concept Laser. “Until very recently, additive manufacturing was the domain of prototypes. Now we're seeing certain sectors enter massive industrial adaptation, while the aerospace industry is experiencing a complete paradigm shift."
The 15th anniversary of the foundation of Concept Laser coincides with a period of strong market growth. It is not for nothing that additive manufacturing is one of the catchwords of industry 4.0, where value creation is focused on automation and digital process and supplier chains.
Fifteen years of Concept Laser means fifteen years of successful process development. Concept Laser has its own research and development department with more than 50 employees. In addition, the company is partner of numerous research and development co-operations with universities, tech-nical-scientific institutions and industrial companies.
Moreover Concept Laser is owner of more than 50 granted patents. At present, the company owns approx. 100 pending patent applications. The majority of the patent applications will be granted in the near future. The number of inventions applied for patents by the company has been steadily growing.
The existing plastic sintering technology led to development of the LaserCUSING method in 1998. As far as Frank Herzog was concerned, what worked for plastics must also work with metals. Stresses in the component and the failure of the metal powder to fuse completely were the major hurdles to begin with. This was remedied in part by Herzog's development of what is known as stochastic expo-sure, for which he filed a patent one year later. This process involves stochastic control of the slice segments (also referred to as islands), which are processed successively.
The patented process significantly reduces tension during the manufacture of very large compo-nents. The second milestone was the use of a solid-state laser, which completely fused the compo-nent to a tenth of a millimeter, thereby ensuring dense components. This initial vision became a reality in the year 2000 when Kerstin and Frank Herzog founded Concept Laser GmbH.
In 2001, the company presented its M3 linear prototype to the public at the Euromold in Frankfurt, Germany. From 2002, Concept Laser delivered the world's first 3D metal printing systems. At this time, Oliver Edelmann joined the management team. He later went on to become a partner, building up professional sales and marketing structures, a portfolio that he manages to this day.
In 2002, Concept Laser also developed the hybrid construction method combining machining and additive manufacturing in a single component. This makes it possible to produce tool inserts and other parts cost-effectively: simple contours are machined in a conventional way while complex parts of the component are printed. In 2005, the company began developing parallel and surface cooling.
More than 400 laser melting systems from Concept Laser are in operation around the world. At the end of 2014, there were 259 systems in use in Europe, 62 in the Americas, 76 in Asia, and four in Africa and Australia.
With the growing importance of the American market, in addition to Europe, Concept Laser founded a subsidiary in Grapevine, Texas, in 2014, which now counts more than 10 employees.
Source: Concept Laser