Q&A with Joakim Ålgårdh

The GE Additive's EBM team will be catching up with researchers and industrial users from around the world at next week’s EBAM 2020.  During the conference arranged by the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg we will also share details of a new software ‘research mode’ available exclusively for universities and research institutes.  Joakim Ålgårdh, external research lead at GE Additive, EBM tells us more.


Back in 2018 we opened up the A2X’s machine development mode to academia. Presumably, this new ‘research mode’ builds on that?

Yes, it does. The development mode was made available to both industrial customers and academia and allowed the possibility to control more process and machine parameters within the software.

We’ve seen some great results so far from both communities and know we’ll see more case studies during the EBAM conference next week.  

The ‘research mode’ offers universities and research institutes the ability to develop their own melt strategies by using scripts for EBMC 6.0 - the latest version of our EBM Control software. 

Now, with the ‘research mode’ users can also alter and develop the placement and movement of the spot, any melt pattern and melt strategy. Or it might be achieved by changing the power, size and speed/time. For each process step you can either use our predefined strategies or code your own - giving the freedom to control as much or as little of the process as you want.


How would you define a ‘melt strategy’ and what makes a good melt strategy?

I would describe a melt strategy as the way a material or geometry is approached to achieve the desired properties of the final component. 

This includes the order of process steps. That is; pre-heating, contouring or hatching, but also the way the beam is controlled within each process step. 

The basics here are the parameters used for beam power and beam speed. Although, melt strategies also come down to how the beam is positioned. 

The “normal way” of melting is rastering back and forth, but dependent on the material and the geometry, the melt pool behavior might need other approaches than the “normal” rastering to achieve the desired properties. 


Why is the ability to customize the melt strategy important to push EBM innovation forward?

We know that EBM has great potential when it comes to handling advanced materials, but so far, I’ve still only seen a handful of commercial customization cases.  

However, by giving freedom to the user to freely control the beam patterns we are now opening the doors for new ways of approaching and processing materials - with identifying optimal properties as the desired outcome. 


What EBM system and infrastructure do academic institutes need in place to get started with the research mode?

Of course, as a baseline you need an EBM system, such as an Arcam EBM A2X. Based on the system’s availability you might need to install a few minor computer hardware upgrades. 

Other than that, it is just a matter of installing the new software package and, as with the development mode, acquire a software key. You also need to get the proper training - the team at GE Additive will help you with that step. 

The only cost incurred will be a two-day training session, where users will acquire the “research key” and a personal certificate.

With the research mode comes EBMC 6.0, EBM Scan Viewer as well as the additional training and instructions on the research mode.


What exciting EBM developments are you seeing from academia right now, and what are you looking forward to next week at EBAM?

We continue to see a growing interest for EBM across the entire additive community, which is exciting. I am equally thrilled to see how academia is making use of the unique capabilities that EBM offers. 

Here, I am thinking about the possibility to use the electrons as an information carrier, similar to a scanning electron microscope, and being able to understand in-depth what is going on inside the process. 

At EBAM, it is always nice to see the achievements academia does in testing out new exciting materials and material combinations.
All of this coupled with the tools that simulate the melt pool and other process steps helps to deepens our understanding and unlock the full potential of EBM. 


How can universities and the research community sign up?

In the first instance, any university or institute interested in learning more about EBM or research mode can get in touch with me directly.

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