(19)
(11)EP 3 744 505 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
01.03.2023 Bulletin 2023/09

(21)Application number: 19176755.7

(22)Date of filing:  27.05.2019
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
B29C 64/153(2017.01)
B29C 64/393(2017.01)
B33Y 50/02(2015.01)
B22F 3/105(2006.01)
B29C 64/129(2017.01)
B33Y 10/00(2015.01)
B33Y 30/00(2015.01)
(52)Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC):
B29C 64/153; B29C 64/129; B29C 64/393; B33Y 10/00; B33Y 50/02; B33Y 30/00; Y02P 10/25; B22F 10/31; B22F 12/44; B22F 10/28; B22F 12/90

(54)

METHOD FOR CALIBRATING AN APPARATUS FOR PRODUCING AN OBJECT BY MEANS OF ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING, AND APPARATUS FOR THE METHOD

VERFAHREN ZUR KALIBRIERUNG EINER VORRICHTUNG ZUR HERSTELLUNG EINES OBJEKTS DURCH GENERATIVE FERTIGUNG UND VORRICHTUNG FÜR DAS VERFAHREN

PROCÉDÉ D'ÉTALONNAGE D'UN APPAREIL DE PRODUCTION D'UN OBJET AU MOYEN DE FABRICATION ADDITIVE ET APPAREIL POUR LE PROCÉDÉ


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(43)Date of publication of application:
02.12.2020 Bulletin 2020/49

(73)Proprietor: Additive Industries B.V.
5600 GA Eindhoven (NL)

(72)Inventors:
  • POELSMA, Sandra Susan
    5600 GA EINDHOVEN (NL)
  • WIJN, Erwin
    5600 GA EINDHOVEN (NL)

(74)Representative: Algemeen Octrooi- en Merkenbureau B.V. 
P.O. Box 645
5600 AP Eindhoven
5600 AP Eindhoven (NL)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 3 088 200
DE-A1-102013 208 651
WO-A1-2019/059761
US-A1- 2017 203 512
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description


    [0001] The invention relates, according to a first aspect, to a method for calibrating an apparatus for producing an object by means of additive manufacturing.

    [0002] According to a second aspect, the present invention relates to an apparatus for producing an object by means of additive manufacturing.

    [0003] According to a third aspect, the present invention relates to a method for manufacturing an object by means of additive manufacturing using an apparatus according to the second aspect, wherein said apparatus is calibrated using the method according to the first aspect of the present invention.

    [0004] 3D printing or additive manufacturing refers to any of various processes for manufacturing a three-dimensional object. Traditional techniques like injection molding can be less expensive for manufacturing, for example, polymer products in high quantities, but 3D printing or additive manufacturing can be faster, more flexible and less expensive when producing relatively small quantities of three-dimensional objects.

    [0005] It is anticipated that additive manufacturing becomes more and more important in the future, as the increasing competitive pressure forces companies to not only manufacture more economically with a constant high product quality but also to save time and costs in the area of product development. The life span of products is continuously shortened. In addition to product quality and product costs, the moment of market introduction is becoming increasingly important for the success of a product.

    [0006] The three-dimensional object may be produced by selectively solidifying, in a layer-like fashion, a powder, paper or sheet material to produce a three-dimensional, 3D, object. In particular, a computer controlled additive manufacturing apparatus may be used which sequentially sinters a plurality of layers to build the desired object in a layer-by-layer fashion. Primarily additive processes are used, in which successive layers of material are laid down under computer control. These objects can be of almost any shape or geometry, and are produced from a 3D model or other electronic data source.

    [0007] In order to print a three-dimensional object, a printable model is to be created with a computer design package or via a 3D scanner, for example. Usually, the input is a 3D CAD file such as an STL file, a STEP file or a IGS file. Before printing the object from a CAD file, the file is to be processed by a piece of software, which converts the model into a series of thin subsequent layers. Further, apparatus settings and vectors are generated for controlling the creation of each of the subsequent layers.

    [0008] A laser comprised in the computer controlled additive manufacturing apparatus follows these settings and vectors to solidify successive layers of material to build the 3D object from a series of cross sections. These layers, which correspond to the virtual cross sections from the CAD model, are during this process joined or fused at the same time to create the final 3D object.

    [0009] One of the challenges in the manufacturing of three dimensional objects, in particular in additive manufacturing of metal objects, is how to accurately solidify selective parts of the layer. Production systems using high power lasers position systems suffer from synchronization errors due to timing errors, ramp up/ramp down behavior of laser systems, and dynamic behavior of scanners. This causes accuracy errors in the products.

    [0010] Delay settings are available to match laser power emission and actual laser position. These delay settings are capable of controlling for instance a laser on/off delay, a jump delay and a mark delay. Optimization of delay settings is labor intensive work and requires a skilled operator. US2017/0203512 A1 discloses a method for a calibrating laser additive manufacturing process. WO2019/059761 A1 discloses a method for calibrating an apparatus for producing an object by means of additive manufacturing.

    [0011] It is therefore an object to provide a method and apparatus with which the accuracy and speed of calibration of the apparatus for producing an object by means of additive manufacturing may be improved.

    [0012] To this end, the invention provides a method for calibrating an apparatus for producing an object by means of additive manufacturing according to claim 1. In the method, said apparatus comprises:
    • a process chamber for receiving a bath of material which can be solidified by exposure to electromagnetic radiation;
    • a support for positioning the object in relation to the surface level of the bath of material; and
    • a solidifying device for solidifying a selective layer-part of the material on the surface level by means of electromagnetic radiation;


    [0013] The method according to the invention comprises the steps of:
    • controlling the solidifying device for making a first test mark at a first delay setting;
    • controlling the solidifying device for making a second test mark at a second delay setting different from the first delay setting; and
    • determining a delay setting, preferably an optimal delay setting, based on at least said first test mark and said second test mark.


    [0014] In an embodiment of the method, wherein said apparatus comprises a deflector unit for deflecting said electromagnetic radiation along said surface level, said method comprises the steps of:
    • controlling the solidifying device and the deflector unit for making a first test mark at a first delay setting;
    • controlling the solidifying device and the deflector unit for making a second test mark at a second delay setting different from the first delay setting.


    [0015] A delay setting according to the invention may relate to a solidifying device on/off delay setting such as a laser on/off delay setting. The delay setting may furthermore relate to a jump delay setting and a mark delay setting.

    [0016] Within the context of the present disclosure a solidifying device on delay setting is to be understood as a setting, such as a software setting, arranged for delaying a solidifying device on command to said solidifying device. By delaying the solidifying device on command, receipt of said solidifying device on command, by said solidifying device is delayed. As a result of this delayed receipt, by said solidifying device, the solidifying device will start emitting said electromagnetic radiation after a time delay corresponding to said delay setting. Such a time delay is for instance attractive for avoiding, or at least significantly reducing the risk of, a relative high energy density of said electromagnetic radiation at said surface level after said start of emitting the electromagnetic radiation. The relative high energy density may for instance be due to acceleration of movement of the electromagnetic radiation along said surface level by a deflector unit for deflecting the beam of electromagnetic radiation along said surface level. Preferably, said solidifying device on delay setting corresponds to a time required by said deflector unit for reaching a condition, for instance after an idle condition of said deflector unit and/or receipt of a command for initiating movement of said electromagnetic radiation along said surface level, by said deflector unit, wherein said deflecting of said electromagnetic radiation along said surface level occurs at relative constant speed. Alternatively, a solidifying device on delay setting corresponding to a time delay that is relatively long may cause, during manufacturing of an object, said process of solidifying the selective layer-part of the material on the surface level by means of electromagnetic radiation to start too late, thereby partly preventing solidification of the selective layer-part.

    [0017] Within the context of the present disclosure, a solidifying device off delay setting is to be understood as a setting, such as a software setting, arranged for delaying a solidifying device off command to said solidifying device. By delaying the solidifying device off command, receipt of said solidifying device off command, by said solidifying device is delayed. As a result of this delayed receipt, by said solidifying device, the solidifying device will maintain emitting said electromagnetic radiation during a time period corresponding to said solidifying device off delay setting. Such a time period is for instance attractive for avoiding, or at least significantly reducing the risk of, stopping said process of solidifying the selective layer-part of the material on the surface level by means of electromagnetic radiation too early, i.e. before the selective layer-part is completely solidified. A solidifying device off delay setting corresponding to a time delay that is relatively long may cause a relative high energy density of said electromagnetic radiation at said surface level near the end of solidifying the selective layer-part. The relative high energy density may for instance be due to slowing down of the movement of the electromagnetic radiation along said surface level by the deflector unit.

    [0018] Preferably, said solidifying off delay setting corresponds to a time required by said deflector unit for completing a predetermined movement of said electromagnetic radiation along said surface level of said selective layer-part by said deflector unit.

    [0019] Within the context of the present disclosure a jump delay setting is to be understood as a setting, such as a software setting, arranged for delaying said solidifying device on command to said solidifying device for delaying start of emission of electromagnetic radiation, emitted by said solidifying device, wherein said jump delay setting indicates a time for actuating said deflector unit for deflecting said electromagnetic radiation along said surface level to a predetermined position, preferably to a predetermined start position. In other words the jump delay setting allows the deflection device to achieve a condition wherein said electromagnetic radiation is deflected along said surface level to a predetermined position, preferably a predetermined start position, before providing said solidifying device on command to said solidifying device or before delaying said solidifying device on command by said solidifying device on delay setting before providing said solidifying device on command to said solidifying device. By delaying the solidifying device on command by said jump delay setting, receipt of said solidifying device on command, by said solidifying device is delayed by a time that corresponds to a time for actuating said deflector unit for deflecting said electromagnetic radiation along said surface level to a predetermined position, preferably to a predetermined start position. As a result of this delayed receipt, by said solidifying device, the solidifying device will start emitting said electromagnetic radiation after a time delay corresponding to said jump delay setting or corresponding to an aggregate time period of said jump delay setting and said solidifying device on delay setting. Such a time delay is for instance attractive for avoiding, or at least significantly reducing the risk of, starting said process of solidifying the selective layer-part of the material on the surface level by means of electromagnetic radiation too early or too late.

    [0020] Preferably, the solidifying device on delay starts upon the end of the jump delay. In other words, the time delay corresponding to said solidifying device on delay setting for providing said solidifying on command to said solidifying device start upon completion of the delay period defined by the jump delay setting.

    [0021] Within the context of the present disclosure a mark delay setting is to be understood as a setting, such as a software setting, arranged for delaying a stop of movement command to said deflector unit for deflecting said electromagnetic radiation, emitted by said solidifying device, along said surface level. In other words the mark delay setting allows the deflection device to achieve a condition wherein said electromagnetic radiation is deflected along said surface level to a predetermined position, preferably a predetermined end position.

    [0022] By delaying the stop of movement command, receipt of said stop of movement command, by said deflector unit is delayed by a time that corresponds to a time for actuating said deflector unit for deflecting said electromagnetic radiation along said surface level to a predetermined position, preferably to a predetermined end position. As a result of this delayed receipt, by said deflector unit, the deflector unit will maintain moving after a time delay corresponding to said mark delay setting. Such a time delay is for instance attractive for avoiding, or at least significantly reducing the risk of, stopping said process of solidifying the selective layer-part of the material on the surface level by means of electromagnetic radiation too early or too late.

    [0023] According to the invention, a first test mark is provided on or near the support. The first test mark is provided at a first delay setting. Then, a second test mark is provided on or near the support. The second test mark is provided at a second delay setting that differs from the first delay setting. This allows the influence of a different delay setting for said solidifying device and/or said deflector unit to be examined. Once the test marks are made, the marks are examined and a delay setting, preferably an optimal delay setting, is determined. The delay setting, preferably optimal delay setting, may be one of the delay settings actually used, for example one of the first and second delay settings. Alternatively, an intermediate setting may be used as well, for example a setting that is based on the first and second delay setting. For example, a fit may be used to determine an optimum delay setting.

    [0024] In this regard it is beneficial if during said steps of controlling, said first delay setting and said second delay setting are both one of said solidifying device on delay setting, said solidifying device off delay setting, said jump delay setting or said mark delay setting.

    [0025] The method according to the invention may be repeated for different location settings on or near the support. The support, i.e. the level of the bath of material, defines a working plane for the solidifying device (xy-plane). For different locations in this plane, the calibration method according to the invention may be repeated. Thus, for a first coordinate at least a first and second test mark are made and a delay setting, preferably an optimal delay setting, is determined. Then, for a second coordinate at least a first and second test mark are made and a delay setting, preferably an optimal delay setting, is determined. This may be done for any given number of grid points in the working plane, for example for a regular rectangular grid. A function may be fitted to the obtained delay settings, preferably the optimal delay settings, for the grid, allowing a smooth function of delay settings to be used for the working plane. The above allows different calibrated delay settings to be used for different locations, and with this the accuracy of the device and of the calibration is increased. Therefore, the object of the invention is achieved.

    [0026] Further advantageous embodiments will be described below.

    [0027] The method comprises the step of controlling the solidifying device for making a reference mark. The step of determining a delay setting, preferably an optimal delay setting, comprises the step of determining a delay setting, preferably an optimal delay setting, based on said reference mark. The reference mark may for example be used as an intended start or stop mark. The test mark may be compared to the reference mark, and it can be determined whether the test mark indeed started (or stopped) at the reference mark, for example. Thus, the reference mark and the corresponding test mark may provide information on the accuracy of the delay setting used.

    [0028] In an embodiment, said reference mark is a line, and said first and second test marks are lines having an orthogonal component with respect to said reference mark. In particular, said first and second test marks may be made substantially orthogonal with respect to said reference mark. According to the invention, the step of determining a delay setting comprises the step of determining a distance between the reference mark and the respective first and second test marks.

    [0029] In a further embodiment, the method may comprise the step of controlling the solidifying device for making a further reference mark. Said further reference mark may be made at a distance from said reference mark. Said further reference mark may be a line, in particular a line that is provided substantially parallel to said reference mark. The first and second test marks may be made with the intention to exactly start at the reference mark, and to exactly end at the further reference mark, or vice versa. A laser on/off delay setting may be independently calibrated this way. Any setting that starts at the reference line and ends at the further reference line (or vice versa) will be considered to be a delay setting, preferably an optimal delay setting, for said solidifying device and/or said deflector unit and for the given location.

    [0030] The method comprises the step of providing a calibration system with a sensor unit that can be directed to said support; and the method comprises the further steps of:
    • determining, with the sensor unit, a measure for the position of the first and second test marks;
    • determining, with the calibration system, the delay setting, preferably the optimal delay setting.


    [0031] By using a calibration system, any apparatus may be calibrated using the method according to the invention. In particular, a more objective and reproducible calibration is possible, independent from the apparatus used, and independent from the user that calibrates the apparatus. Additionally, a calibration system increases the speed with which the calibration may be performed.

    [0032] The sensor unit may, in an embodiment, comprise an imaging device, wherein said imaging device is used for obtaining an image of the test marks. Said imaging device may also be used for obtaining an image of the reference mark (and further reference mark, when applicable). The calibration system may be arranged for determining a distance between the reference mark and either one of the test marks. In case a further reference mark is used, the calibration system may be arranged for determining a distance between the further reference mark and either one of the test marks. The calibration unit may for example be arranged for detecting said marks based on a contrast detection of the image obtained by the imaging device.

    [0033] The imaging device is in an embodiment arranged in such a way that an optical path of the imaging device, in use of the apparatus, coincides at least partly with an optical path of the electromagnetic radiation of the solidifying device. This way, the imaging device is substantially aligned with the solidifying device, giving direct feedback on inaccuracies. Therefore, easy and precise imaging of the test marks and/or reference marks may be done, leading to very accurate delay corrections.

    [0034] In an embodiment of the method according to the invention during said steps of controlling a beam of said electromagnetic radiation, emitted by said solidifying device, is moved in a first direction. Preferably, the method further comprises the steps of repeating said steps of controlling and determining, wherein during said repeated steps of controlling said solidifying device, said beam of said electromagnetic radiation, emitted by said solidifying device, is moved in a second direction, wherein said second direction differs from said first direction for determining said delay setting, preferably optimal delay setting, in said first direction and in said second direction. A determined delay setting, preferably optimal delay setting, in two different directions is beneficial for improving the accuracy of the apparatus. In particular when the apparatus comprises a deflector unit comprising two moveable mirrors for deflecting the beam of electromagnetic radiation in a working plane it is beneficial to determine delay setting, preferably optimal delay setting, in two different directions, wherein said two different directions correspond to the respective direction of deflection, by said moveable mirrors, of the beam of electromagnetic radiation for improving the accuracy and speed of calibration of the apparatus for producing an object by means of additive manufacturing.

    [0035] In an embodiment of the method according to the invention said distance comprises a first distance component and a second distance component, wherein said second distance component, in a working plane, encloses an angle with said first distance component, wherein a delay setting, preferably an optimal delay setting, in a first direction is based on said first distance component and a delay setting, preferably an optimal delay setting, in a second direction is based on said second distance component. A determined delay setting, preferably optimal delay setting, in two different directions is beneficial for improving the accuracy of the apparatus. In particular when the apparatus comprises a deflector unit comprising two moveable mirrors for deflecting the beam of electromagnetic radiation in a working plane it is beneficial to determine delay settings, preferably optimal delay settings, in two different directions, wherein said two different directions correspond to the respective direction of deflection, by said moveable mirrors, of the beam of electromagnetic radiation for improving the accuracy and speed of calibration of the apparatus for producing an object by means of additive manufacturing.

    [0036] In an embodiment of the method according to the invention, during said steps of controlling a beam of said electromagnetic radiation, emitted by said solidifying device, is moved at a first speed, said method further comprising the steps of repeating said steps of controlling and determining, wherein during said repeated steps of controlling said solidifying device, said beam of said electromagnetic radiation, emitted by said solidifying device, is moved at a second speed, wherein during said step of determining said delay setting, preferably the optimal delay setting, is determined for said first and second speeds. It is observed that the delay setting, preferably the optimal delay setting, may depend on the movement speed of the beam of electromagnetic radiation. Determining the delay setting, preferably optimal delay setting, for different speeds is beneficial for improving the accuracy and speed of calibration of the apparatus for producing an object by means of additive manufacturing. Preferably, during said steps of controlling and determining, said beam of said electromagnetic radiation is moved at a speed of 0.5, 1.5 and 4 m/s when making said test marks.

    [0037] It is advantageous if said delay setting is at least one of:
    • a solidifying device on delay setting arranged for delaying a solidifying device on command to said solidifying device for delaying start of emission of electromagnetic radiation, emitted by said solidifying device;
    • a solidifying device off delay setting arranged for delaying a solidifying device off command to said solidifying device for delaying stop of emission of electromagnetic radiation, emitted by said solidifying device;
    • a jump delay setting arranged for delaying said solidifying device on command to said solidifying device for delaying start of emission of electromagnetic radiation, emitted by said solidifying device, wherein said jump delay setting indicates a time for actuating a deflector unit for deflecting said electromagnetic radiation along said surface level to a predetermined position, preferably to a predetermined start position;
    • a mark delay setting arranged for delaying a stop of movement command to a deflector unit for deflecting said electromagnetic radiation, emitted by said solidifying device, along said surface level.


    [0038] In this regard it is beneficial if during said steps of controlling, said first delay setting and said second delay setting are both one of said solidifying device on delay setting, said solidifying device off delay setting, said jump delay setting or said mark delay setting, said method further comprising the steps of:
    • further controlling said solidifying device for making a further first test mark at a further first delay setting;
    • further controlling the solidifying device for making a further second test mark at a further second delay setting different from the further first delay setting; and
    • further determining a further delay setting, preferably a further optimal delay setting, based on at least said further first test mark and said further second test mark;
    wherein during said steps of further controlling said further first delay setting and said further second delay setting are both another one of said solidifying device on delay setting, said solidifying device off delay setting, said jump delay setting or said mark delay setting.

    [0039] The steps of further controlling and further determining are beneficial for allowing setting of multiple delay settings in a practical manner.

    [0040] Preferably, said method further comprises the step of:
    • setting said delay setting, determined during said step of determining, to said delay setting, preferably said optimal delay setting;
    wherein said step of setting is performed before performing said steps of further controlling and further determining.

    [0041] The present disclosure relies at least partly on the insight that the solidifying device on/off delay setting, the jump delay setting and the mark delay setting may mutually influence each other. In other words, the determined delay setting, determined during said step of determining, of one of said solidifying device on delay setting, said solidifying device off delay setting, said jump delay setting or said mark delay setting may influence said other of said solidifying device on delay setting, said solidifying device off delay setting, said jump delay setting or said mark delay setting set during said steps of further controlling. By setting, at least said delay setting, determined during said step of determining, to said delay setting, preferably said optimal delay setting, before performing said steps of further controlling, a set of delay settings may be obtained that may beneficially be used in combination during manufacturing of said object using said apparatus.

    [0042] In an embodiment of the method, wherein said apparatus comprises a deflector unit for deflecting said electromagnetic radiation along said surface level, said method comprises the steps of:
    • further controlling the solidifying device and the deflector unit for making said further first test mark at the further first delay setting;
    • further controlling the solidifying device and the deflector unit for making the further second test mark at the further second delay setting different from the further first delay setting.


    [0043] The method according to the invention may in particular be used to determine delay settings, preferably optimal delay settings, in an apparatus that comprises a multitude of solidifying devices. According to an embodiment, the apparatus for producing an object by means of additive manufacturing comprises a further solidifying device, and the method according to the invention comprises the further steps of:
    • controlling said further solidifying device for making a third test mark at a third delay setting;
    • controlling said further solidifying device for making a fourth test mark at a fourth delay setting different from the third delay setting; and
    • determining a delay setting, preferably an optimal delay setting, based on at least said third test mark and said fourth test mark.


    [0044] Said third delay setting may of course correspond to said first delay setting, such that the same delay setting may be compared for different solidifying devices. Likewise, the fourth delay setting may correspond to said second delay setting. This way it is possible to optimize delay settings an apparatus with a plurality of solidifying devices. This is advantageous, as it allows the different solidifying devices to work more cooperatively, for example for solidifying overlapping or adjacent parts of the object to be produced more accurately with a plurality of solidifying devices at the same time.

    [0045] The sensor unit may comprise at least a further imaging device that is arranged such that an optical path of the further imaging device, in use of the apparatus, coincides at least partly with an optical path of the electromagnetic radiation of the further solidifying device, wherein said further imaging device is used for obtaining an image of the third and fourth test marks. This improves the speed of calibration, as it allows for calibration of multiple solidifying devices at the same time. Additionally, by using multiple imaging devices it is possible to increase the accuracy of calibration, as spatial resolution of each imaging device may be increased without affecting the general calibration possibilities. Thus, by providing an imaging device for each of the solidifying devices, speed of the calibration and accuracy of the calibration may be increased.

    [0046] In an embodiment, the further imaging device is arranged in such a way that an optical path of the imaging device, in use of the apparatus, coincides at least partly with an optical path of the electromagnetic radiation of the further solidifying device. As described before, the further imaging device is substantially aligned with the further solidifying device this way, giving direct feedback on inaccuracies.

    [0047] In an embodiment of the method according to the invention, the method further comprises the steps of:
    • controlling said solidifying device for making a fifth test mark at said delay setting, preferably said optimal delay setting, of said solidifying device;
    • controlling said further solidifying device for making a sixth test mark at said delay setting, preferably said optimal delay setting, of said further solidifying device;
    • determining a difference in spatial accuracy between said solidifying device and said further solidifying device based on at least said fifth test mark and said sixth test mark.


    [0048] Determining a difference in spatial accuracy is beneficial for improving the accuracy and speed of calibration of the apparatus for producing an object by means of additive manufacturing when deploying a multitude of solidifying devices.

    [0049] In an embodiment of the method according to the present disclosure, the step of determining further comprises:
    • determining, said delay setting, preferably said optimal delay setting, based on a width of said first test mark and/or said second test mark and/or a width variation of said first test mark and/or said second test mark along said first test mark and said second test mark.


    [0050] A width of said first test mark or said second test mark, in particular a width variation of said first test mark or said second test mark may provide a measure corresponding to a delay setting. In particular, a width variation may indicate that the delay setting is not acceptable and/or not optimal. An increase of the width of the test mark near the end of the test mark may provide an indication that the solidifying device off delay setting corresponds to a time delay that is relatively long thereby causing a relative high energy density of said electromagnetic radiation at said surface level near the end of solidifying the selective layer-part. The relative high energy density may for instance be due to slowing down of the movement of the electromagnetic radiation along said surface level by the deflector unit.

    [0051] An increase of the width of the test mark near the begin of the test mark may provide an indication that the solidifying device on delay setting corresponds to a time delay that is relatively short thereby causing a relative high energy density of said electromagnetic radiation at said surface level after said start of emitting the electromagnetic radiation. The relative high energy density may for instance be due to acceleration of movement of the electromagnetic radiation along said surface level by a deflector unit for deflecting the beam of electromagnetic radiation.

    [0052] According to a second aspect, an apparatus for producing an object by means of additive manufacturing is provided, and comprising:
    • a process chamber for receiving a bath of material which can be solidified by exposure to electromagnetic radiation;
    • a support for positioning the object in relation to the surface level of the bath of material;
    • a solidifying device for solidifying a selective layer-part of the material on the surface level by means of electromagnetic radiation; and
    • a calibration system having a sensor unit that may be directed to the support.


    [0053] According to the invention, the calibration system is adapted and arranged for:
    • controlling the solidifying device for making a first test mark at a first delay setting;
    • controlling the solidifying device for making a second test mark at a second delay setting different from the first delay setting; and
    • determining a delay setting, preferably an optimal delay setting, based on at least said first test mark and said second test mark.


    [0054] The apparatus with calibration system allows for an effective and reproducible calibration of the apparatus. Additionally, since the apparatus comprises the calibration system, calibration may be executed at any time. For instance, calibration may be performed at regular time intervals. This increases the accuracy of the apparatus. Further advantages of the apparatus have already been indicated with respect to the method.

    [0055] Embodiments of the apparatus according to the second aspect correspond to embodiments of the method according to the first aspect of the present disclosure. The advantages of the apparatus according to the second aspect correspond to advantages of the method according to first aspect of the present disclosure presented previously.

    [0056] In an embodiment, the sensor unit comprises an imaging device that is arranged for obtaining an image of the first and second test marks. As indicated before, the imaging device may be arranged in such a way that an optical path of the imaging device, in use of the apparatus, coincides at least partly with an optical path of the electromagnetic radiation of the solidifying device. This improves the accuracy of the apparatus.

    [0057] Said apparatus may, in an embodiment, comprise a further solidifying device. Said calibration system is then adapted and arranged for:
    • controlling said further solidifying device for making a third test mark at a third delay setting;
    • controlling said further solidifying device for making a fourth test mark at a fourth delay setting different from the third delay setting; and
    • determining a delay setting, preferably an optimal delay setting. for said further solidifying device based on at least said third test mark and said fourth test mark.


    [0058] Said the sensor unit comprises, in an embodiment, at least one further imaging device that is arranged in such a way that an optical path of the further imaging device, in use of the apparatus, coincides at least partly with an optical path of the electromagnetic radiation of the further solidifying device. This increases the accuracy of calibration.

    [0059] According to a further aspect of the present disclosure, the invention relates to a method of manufacturing an object by means of additive manufacturing using an apparatus according to the second aspect of the present disclosure, wherein said apparatus is calibrated using the method according to the first aspect of the present disclosure.

    [0060] The invention will next be explained by means of the accompanying figures. In the figures:

    Fig. 1 - shows a schematic overview of an apparatus according to the invention, arranged for producing an object by means of additive manufacturing;

    Fig. 2 - shows a schematic overview of an alternative embodiment of the apparatus according to the invention;

    Fig. 3 - shows a schematic overview of a further embodiment of the apparatus according to the invention;

    Fig. 4 - shows a schematic overview of yet a further embodiment of the apparatus according to the invention;

    Fig. 5 - shows an embodiment of a test marks and reference marks that are used in the method according to the invention;

    Fig. 6 - shows a schematic overview of a method according to the invention;

    Fig. 7 - shows a schematic overview of delays according to the present disclosure.



    [0061] Figure 1 shows an overview of an apparatus 1 for producing an object 2 by means of additive manufacturing. The apparatus 1 is built from several frame parts 11, 12, 13. The apparatus comprises a process chamber 3 for receiving a bath of material 4 which can be solidified. In a lower frame part 11, a shaft is formed, wherein a support 5 is provided for positioning the object 2 (or even objects) in relation to the surface level L of the bath of material 4. The support 5 is movably provided in the shaft, such that after solidifying a layer, the support 5 may be lowered, and a further layer of material may be solidified on top of the part of the object 2 already formed. In a top part 13 of the apparatus 1, a solidifying device 7 is provided for solidifying a selective part of the material. In the embodiment shown, the solidifying device 7 is a laser device, which is arranged for producing electromagnetic radiation in the form of laser light, in order to melt a powdered material provided on the support, which then, after cooling forms a solidified part of the object to be produced. However, the invention is not limited to the type of solidifying device. As can be seen, the electromagnetic radiation 71 emitted by the laser device 7 is deflected by means of a deflector unit 74, which uses a rotatable optical element 75 to direct the emitted radiation 71 towards the surface L of the layer of material 4. Depending on the position of the deflector unit 74, in particular the position of the rotatable optical element 75, radiation may be emitted, as an example, according to rays 72, 73.

    [0062] The apparatus 1 may further comprise a recoating device (not shown) which can be displaced along the surface L of the bath for levelling the surface L of the bath of material 4. Such a recoating device is known per se to those skilled in the art.

    [0063] The apparatus 1 according to the invention comprises a calibration system 8 with a sensor unit 81. Details of this calibration system and sensor unit 81 will become apparent later, when the method according to the invention is described with reference to Fig. 5.

    [0064] Figure 2 shows an alternative embodiment of an apparatus 1 for producing an object 2 by means of additive manufacturing. For sake of brevity, parts similar to those parts as described with reference to Fig. 1 have been given the same reference sign, and will not be discussed further. The apparatus 1 according to this embodiment comprises a calibration system 8, with a sensor unit 81, here in the form of an imaging device 81, that will be used for calibration of the apparatus. The apparatus according to this embodiment further comprises a control unit 91 connected, by means of line 93, to the sensor unit 81. To this end, the control unit 91 may be connected, by means of line 93, to the solidifying device, and/or to the deflector unit 74, by means of line 94.

    [0065] As can be seen in Fig. 2, the sensor unit comprises at least one imaging device, in particular an optical imaging device, such as a camera unit 81. The camera unit is, in this embodiment, arranged for making one or more images of calibration markers 82 provided on or near the support 5, in the example shown connected to the lower frame part 11. The one or more images of one or more of the calibration markers 82 obtained by the sensor unit are processed by the calibration system 8, for example in that they are fed to the control unit 91 for being processed there. The images of the calibration markers 82 may be used for establishing a calibration coordinate system. Thus, although beneficial, the calibration markers are not essential for the invention.

    [0066] The calibration system shown in Fig. 2 comprises said sensor unit 81 and said control unit 91, and is arranged for performing method 301 comprising the steps of:
    • controlling the solidifying device 7, during a step 303, for making a first test mark TM at a first delay setting;
    • controlling the solidifying device 7, during a step 305, for making a second test mark TM at a second delay setting different from the first delay setting; and
    • determining a delay setting, preferably an optimal delay setting, during a step 307, based on at least said first test mark and said second test mark.


    [0067] During said steps 303 and 305 of controlling, the deflector device 74 may be controlled, by said control unit 91, for deflecting said electromagnetic radiation along said surface level L for realizing said first and second test mark. Alternatively, it is conceivable that the solidifying device is moved relative to said bath of powdered material for realizing said first and second test marks.

    [0068] The calibration unit 8 may determine, with the sensor unit 81, a measure for the delay setting, preferably the optimal delay setting, based on a plurality of test marks TM made by the solidifying device 7. These steps 303, 305 and 307 according to the invention will be explained in more detail with respect to Fig. 5. The delay setting may relate to the solidifying device on delay setting SOon such as a laser on delay setting or to the solidifying device off delay setting SDoff such as a laser off delay setting. The delay setting may furthermore relate to a jump delay setting JD and a mark delay setting MD.

    [0069] Fig. 3 shows a further embodiment of an apparatus 1 suitable to be used in the method according to the invention. The apparatus 1 largely corresponds to the apparatus as shown in Fig. 2, and for reasons of conciseness, mainly the differences will be described. As can be seen in Fig. 3, the main difference is that the position of the imaging device 81 differs with respect to the embodiment shown in Fig. 2. Here, the imaging device 81 is arranged such that an optical path 71 of the imaging device 81, during use of the imaging device 81, at least partly coincides with an optical path 71 of the electromagnetic radiation generated by the solidifying device 7, during use of the solidifying device 7. It should be expressly noted in this respect, that the imaging device 81 and the solidifying device 7 do not necessarily have to be operated at the same time, although this is conceivable. For instance, in an embodiment, the first mark, second mark, and/or reference mark (and/or other marks) is/are only registered when the solidifying device 7 is free from emitting electromagnetic radiation, although it is also possible that the characteristic registered is electromagnetic radiation itself. In the embodiment shown in Fig. 3, use is made of an optical device, such as a semitransparent mirror element, or a single lens reflex arrangement, to be able to obtain an image of the calibration area, using the registering means 81, via the deflector unit 74, and to use the information obtained by the registering means 81. The method according to the invention, using such an apparatus, will be described further below with respect to Fig. 5.

    [0070] Fig. 4 shows an overview of an apparatus 1 for producing an object 2 by means of additive manufacturing, according to yet a further embodiment of the present invention. As in the previous embodiments, a first solidifying device 7 is provided for solidifying a selective part of the material by means of electromagnetic radiation. The top part 13 of the apparatus 1 also comprises a further solidifying device 7' for solidifying a selective part of the material by means of electromagnetic radiation. As can be seen, the electromagnetic radiation 71' emitted by the further laser device 7' is deflected by means of a further rotatable deflector unit 75' to direct the emitted radiation 71' thereof towards the surface L of the layer of material 4.

    [0071] In the embodiment shown, the solidifying device 7 and the further solidifying device 7' are laser devices, which are arranged for producing electromagnetic radiation in the form of laser light, in order to melt a powdered material provided on the support, which then, after cooling forms a solidified part of the object to be produced. However, the invention is not limited to this type of solidifying device, but comprises in general solidifying devices that use electromagnetic radiation. Furthermore, the type of electromagnetic radiation emitted by the plurality of solidifying devices may be the same for each and every solidifying device, although it is conceivable that the type of electromagnetic radiation emitted by the plurality of solidifying devices differs for at least two of the plurality of solidifying devices.

    [0072] It can be seen furthermore in Fig. 4, that the plurality of deflector means 75, 75' are positioned near a line C perpendicular to the plane defined by the object working area L, and which line C passes through geometrical centre of gravity of the object working area L. In other words, the deflector means 75, 75' are substantially provided above a centre part of the object working area L. This allows each of the plurality of solidifying devices to easily reach substantially the entire object working area, such that, for instance, simultaneous solidifying of different parts of a single object may occur.

    [0073] Not shown in Fig. 4, for reasons of keeping the Figures clear and legible, is that imaging devices may be provided for each solidifying device 7, 7'. Thus, like the embodiments shown in Fig. 2 and Fig. 3, an imaging device 81 may be provided for each solidifying device. In particular, one or more of the imaging devices 81 may be arranged such that an optical path 71 of the respective imaging device 81, during use of the imaging device 81, at least partly coincides with an optical path 71 of the electromagnetic radiation generated by the corresponding solidifying device 7, 7'. These one or more imaging devices are hence part of the calibration system 8 with sensor unit 81. The method according to the invention is in particular very advantageous in calibrating such an apparatus, in particular for aligning delay settings, such as the solidifying device on/off delay setting SDon/SDoff, the jump delay setting JD and the mark delay setting MD, of a plurality of solidifying devices with each other. The invention is in principle not limited to the number of solidifying devices used, or to the number of imaging devices used.

    [0074] Referring back to Fig. 4, it can be seen that the apparatus 1 further comprises control means 74 arranged for controlling the plurality of solidifying devices 7, 7', wherein the control means are arranged for simultaneously operating the plurality of solidifying devices 7, 7' in different parts of the object working area L.

    [0075] Thus, with the apparatus shown in Fig. 4, the plurality of solidifying devices 7, 7' may be controlled to work in substantially the entire object working area L, such that it is possible to solidify different parts of a single object 2 at the same time. By simultaneously solidifying different parts of a single object, this object may be produced more quickly, and total production time of the object may be decreased. To increase the accuracy, calibration of delay settings of each of the solidifying devices, and alignment thereof, is required.

    [0076] Using the apparatus 1, delay settings, preferably optimal delay settings, can be determined as outlined hereinafter with reference to Figure 5 in a first direction A and a second direction B. Figure 5 shows a first reference mark 101 and a second reference mark 102, both made on an exposure plate using the solidifying device 7. The first reference mark 101 and the second reference mark 102 are substantially parallel and positioned at a distance to each other. The first reference mark 101 is a start mark for determining a delay setting, preferably an optimal delay setting, such as the solidifying device on delay setting SOon and the jump delay setting JD, for starting the marking with the solidifying device 7 in direction A. The second reference mark 102 is a stop mark for determining a delay setting, preferably an optimal delay setting, such as the solidifying off delay setting SDoff and the mark delay setting MD for stopping the marking with the solidifying device 7 in direction A.

    [0077] After providing said first and second reference marks 101, 102 several test marks 111, 112, 113, 121, 122 and 123 are made at different delay settings of one of the solidifying device on/off delay setting SDon/SDoff, the jump delay setting JD and the mark delay setting MD. The test marks 111, 112, 113, 121, 122 and 123 extent in a direction substantially perpendicular to said first and second reference marks 101, 102 and are made with the intention to start at the first reference mark 101 and end at the second reference mark 102. A measure for the positions of the first reference mark 101, second reference mark 102 and the test marks 111, 112, 113, 121, 122 and 123 are determined by obtaining an image of the first reference mark 101, second reference mark 102 and the test marks 111, 112, 113, 121, 122 and 123 by the imaging device 81 of calibration system 8 of the apparatus 1.

    [0078] For determining the delay setting, preferably the optimal delay setting, for stopping the marking with the solidifying device 7 test marks 121 and 122 are made. Subsequently, the calibration system 8 determines the distance between the second reference mark 102 and the end of the test mark 121 and the distance between the second reference mark 102 and the end of the test mark 122. Based on these determined distances between the end of the test mark 121 and the reference mark 102 and between the end of the test mark 121 and the reference mark 102 a delay setting, preferably an optimal delay setting, is determined using a fit function such as a linear interpolation. Subsequently, test mark 123 is made using the determined delay setting, preferably optimal delay setting, for verification of the delay setting, preferably optimal delay setting, for stopping the marking with the solidifying device 7. A setting that results in a end of the test mark 123 at the second reference mark 102 is considered the delay setting, preferably the optimal delay setting, for stopping the marking with the solidifying device 7 in direction A. Alternatively, it is conceivable that an end of a test mark at a predetermined distance from the second reference mark is considered the delay setting, preferably the optimal delay setting, for stopping the marking with the solidifying device in direction A.

    [0079] For determining the delay setting, preferably the optimal delay setting for starting the marking with the solidifying device 7 test marks 111 and 112 are made. Subsequently, the calibration system 8 determines the distance between the first reference mark 101 and the start of the test mark 111 and the distance between the first reference mark 101 and the start of the test mark 112. Based on these determined distances between the start of the test mark 111 and the first reference mark 101 and between the start of the test mark 111 and the first reference mark 101 a delay setting, preferably an optimal delay setting, is determined using a fit function such as a linear interpolation. Subsequently, test mark 113 is made using the determined delay setting, preferably the optimal delay setting, for verification of the delay setting, preferably the optimal delay setting, for starting the marking with the solidifying device 7. A setting that results in a start of test mark 113 at the first reference mark 101 is considered the delay setting, preferably the optimal delay setting, for starting the marking with the solidifying device 7 in direction A. Alternatively, it is conceivable that a start of a test mark at a predetermined distance from the first reference mark is considered the delay setting, preferably optimal delay setting, for starting the marking with the solidifying device in direction A.

    [0080] Using the apparatus 1, delay settings, preferably optimal delay settings, can be determined in the second direction B in a manner similar as outlined above with reference to Figure 5 in the first direction A. Figure 5 shows a third reference mark 201 and a fourth reference mark 202, both made on an exposure plate using the solidifying device 7. The third reference mark 201 and the fourth reference mark 202 are substantially parallel, positioned at a distance to each other and enclose an angle different from 0 degrees with the first reference mark 101 and the second reference mark 102. The third reference mark 201 is a start mark for determining a delay setting, preferably an optimal delay setting, for starting the marking with the solidifying device 7 in direction B. The fourth reference mark 202 is a stop mark for determining a delay setting, preferably an optimal delay setting, for stopping the marking with the solidifying device 7 in direction B.

    [0081] After providing said third and fourth reference marks 201, 202 several test marks 211, 212, 213, 221, 222 and 223 are made at different delay settings of one of the solidifying device on/off delay setting SDon/SDoff, the jump delay setting JD and the mark delay setting MD. The test marks 211, 212, 213, 221, 222 and 223 extent in a direction substantially perpendicular to said third and fourth reference marks 201, 202 and are made with the intention to start at the third reference mark 201 and end at the fourth reference mark 202. A measure for the positions of the third reference mark 201, fourth reference mark 202 and the test marks 211, 212, 213, 221, 222 and 223 are determined by obtaining an image of the third reference mark 201, fourth reference mark 202 and the test marks 211, 212, 213, 221, 222 and 223 by the imaging device 81 of calibration system 8 of the apparatus 1.

    [0082] For determining the delay setting, preferably the optimal delay setting, for stopping the marking with the solidifying device 7 test marks 221 and 222 are made. Subsequently, the calibration system 8 determines the distance between the fourth reference mark 202 and the end of the test mark 221 and the distance between the fourth reference mark 202 and the end of the test mark 222. Based on these determined distances between the end of the test mark 221 and the reference mark 202 and between the end of the test mark 221 and the reference mark 202 a delay setting, preferably an optimal delay setting, is determined using a fit function such as a linear interpolation. Subsequently, test mark 223 is made using the determined optimal delay setting for verification of the delay setting, preferably the optimal delay setting, for stopping the marking with the solidifying device 7 in direction B. A setting that results in a end of the test mark 223 at the fourth reference mark 202 is considered the delay setting, preferably the optimal delay setting, for stopping the marking with the solidifying device 7 in direction B. Alternatively, it is conceivable that an end of a test mark at a predetermined distance from the fourth reference mark is considered the delay setting, preferably the optimal delay setting, for stopping the marking with the solidifying device in direction B.

    [0083] For determining the delay setting, preferably the optimal delay setting, for starting the marking with the solidifying device 7 in direction B test marks 211 and 212 are made. Subsequently, the calibration system 8 determines the distance between the third reference mark 201 and the start of the test mark 211 and the distance between the third reference mark 201 and the start of the test mark 212. Based on these determined distances between the start of the test mark 211 and the third reference mark 201 and between the start of the test mark 211 and the third reference mark 201 a delay setting, preferably an optimal delay setting, is determined using a fit function such as a linear interpolation. Subsequently, test mark 213 is made using the determined delay setting, preferably the optimal delay setting, for verification of the delay setting, preferably the optimal delay setting, for starting the marking with the solidifying device 7 in direction B. A setting that results in a start of test mark 213 at the third reference mark 201 is considered the delay setting, preferably the optimal delay setting, for starting the solidifying device 7 in direction B. Alternatively, it is conceivable that a start of a test mark at a predetermined distance from the third reference mark is considered the delay setting, preferably the optimal delay setting, for starting the marking with the solidifying device in direction B.

    [0084] After determining said delay setting, preferably said optimal delay setting, for one of the solidifying device on delay setting SDon, the solidifying device off delay setting SDoff, the jump delay setting JD or the mark delay setting MD, apparatus 1 may be used for determining another one of said solidifying device on delay setting SDon, said solidifying device off delay setting SDoff, said jump delay setting JD or said mark delay setting MD. This allows for determining delay settings related to multiple commands that may be provided by the control unit 91 to the solidifying device 7 and/or the deflector unit 74. The calibration system of apparatus 1 is further arranged for performing the steps of:
    • setting said delay setting, during a step 309, determined during said step 307 of determining, to said delay setting;
    • further controlling said solidifying device 7 and said deflector unit 74, during a step 311, for making a further first test mark at a further first delay setting;
    • further controlling the solidifying device 7 and said deflector unit 74, during a step 313, for making a further second test mark at a further second delay setting different from the further first delay setting; and
    • further determining a further delay setting, preferably a further optimal delay setting, during a step 315, based on at least said further first test mark and said further second test mark.


    [0085] During said steps 311 and 313 of further controlling said further first delay setting and said further second delay setting are both another one of said solidifying device on delay setting SDon, said solidifying device off delay setting SSDoff, said jump delay setting JD or said mark delay setting MD.

    [0086] During said steps 311 and 313 of further controlling said further first delay setting and said further second delay setting are both another one of said solidifying device on delay setting SDon, said solidifying device off delay setting SSDoff, said jump delay setting JD or said mark delay setting MD.


    Claims

    1. Method (301) for calibrating an apparatus (1) for producing an object (2) by means of additive manufacturing, wherein said apparatus (1) comprises:

    - a process chamber (3) for receiving a bath of material (4) which can be solidified by exposure to electromagnetic radiation;

    - a support (5) for positioning the object (2) in relation to the surface level (L) of the bath of material (4); and

    - a solidifying device (7) for solidifying a selective layer-part of the material on the surface level (L) by means of electromagnetic radiation; said method (301) being characterized in that it comprises the steps of:

    - controlling (303) the solidifying device (7) for making a first test mark at a first delay setting;

    - providing a calibration system (8) with a sensor unit (81) that can be directed to said support (5);

    - controlling the solidifying device for making a reference mark (101, 102, 201, 202);

    - controlling (305) the solidifying device (7) for making a second test mark at a second delay setting different from the first delay setting;

    - determining, with the sensor unit (81), a measure for the position of the first and second test marks (111, 112, 113, 121, 122, 123); and

    - determining (307), with the calibration system (8), a delay setting based on at least said first test mark, said second test mark and said reference mark (101, 102, 201, 202), wherein said delay setting is at least one of:

    - a solidifying device on delay setting (SDon) arranged for delaying a solidifying device on command to said solidifying device (7) for delaying start of emission of electromagnetic radiation, emitted by said solidifying device (7);

    - a solidifying device off delay setting (DDoff) arranged for delaying a solidifying device off command to said solidifying device (7) for delaying stop of emission of electromagnetic radiation, emitted by said solidifying device (7);

    - a jump delay setting (JD) arranged for delaying said solidifying device on command to said solidifying device (7) for delaying start of emission of electromagnetic radiation, emitted by said solidifying device (7), wherein said jump delay setting (JD) indicates a time for actuating a deflector unit (74) for deflecting said electromagnetic radiation along said surface level (L) to a predetermined position, preferably to a predetermined start position;

    - a mark delay setting (MD) arranged for delaying a stop of movement command to said deflector unit (74) for deflecting said electromagnetic radiation, emitted by said solidifying device (7), along said surface level (L);

    wherein the step of determining (307) a delay setting comprises determining a distance between the reference mark (101, 102, 201, 202) and the respective first and second test marks (111, 112, 113, 121, 122, 123).
     
    2. Method (301) according to claim 1, wherein said reference mark (101, 102, 201, 202) is a line, and wherein said first and second test marks (111, 112, 113, 121, 122, 123) are lines having an orthogonal component with respect to said reference mark (101, 102, 201, 202), in particular wherein said first and second test marks (111, 112, 113, 121, 122, 123) are made substantially orthogonal with respect to said reference mark (101, 102, 201, 202).
     
    3. Method according to claim 1, wherein the delay setting is determined using a fit function, preferably using linear interpolation.
     
    4. Method (301) according to any one of the previous claims, wherein the step of determining (307) further comprises:

    - determining, said delay setting, based on a width of said first test mark and/or said second test mark and/or a width variation of said first test mark and/or said second test mark along said first test mark and said second test mark.


     
    5. Method (301) according to claim 1, wherein the sensor unit (81) comprises an imaging device (81), wherein said imaging device (81) is used for obtaining an image of the test marks (111, 112, 113, 121, 122, 123).
     
    6. Method (301) according to claim 5, wherein the imaging device (81) is arranged in such a way that an optical path (71) of the imaging device (81), in use of the apparatus (1), coincides at least partly with an optical path (71) of the electromagnetic radiation of the solidifying device (7).
     
    7. Method (301) according to any one of the previous claims, wherein during said steps of controlling (303, 305) a beam of said electromagnetic radiation, emitted by said solidifying device (7), is moved in a first direction (A), said method (301) further comprising the steps of repeating said steps of controlling (303, 305) and determining (307), wherein during said repeated steps of controlling (303, 305) said solidifying device (7), said beam of said electromagnetic radiation, emitted by said solidifying device (7), is moved in a second direction (B), wherein said second direction (B) differs from said first direction (A) for determining said delay setting in said first direction (A) and in said second direction (B).
     
    8. Method according to claim 1, wherein said distance comprises a first distance component and a second distance component, wherein said second distance component, in a working plane, encloses an angle with said first distance component, wherein a delay setting in a first direction is based on said first distance component and a delay setting in a second direction is based on said second distance component.
     
    9. Method according to claim 1, wherein during said steps of controlling a beam of said electromagnetic radiation, emitted by said solidifying device, is moved at a first speed, said method further comprising the steps of repeating said steps of controlling and determining, wherein during said repeated steps of controlling said solidifying device, said beam of said electromagnetic radiation, emitted by said solidifying device, is moved at a second speed, wherein during said step of determining said delay setting is determined for said first and second speeds.
     
    10. Method (301) according to claim 1, wherein, during said steps of controlling (303, 305), said first delay setting and said second delay setting are both one of said solidifying device on delay setting (SDon), said solidifying device off delay setting (SD0ff), said jump delay setting (JD) or said mark delay setting (MD), said method (301) further comprising the steps of:

    - further controlling (311) said solidifying device (7) for making a further first test mark at a further first delay setting;

    - further controlling (313) the solidifying device (7) for making a further second test mark at a further second delay setting different from the further first delay setting; and

    - further determining (315) a further delay setting based on at least said further first test mark and said further second test mark;

    wherein during said steps of further controlling (311, 313) said further first delay setting and said further second delay setting are both another one of said solidifying device on delay setting (SDon), said solidifying device off delay setting (SDoff), said jump delay setting (JD) or said mark delay setting (MD).
     
    11. Method according to claim 10, wherein said method further comprises the step of:

    - setting (309) said delay setting, determined during said step of determining, to said delay setting;

    wherein said step of setting is performed before performing said steps of further controlling.
     
    12. Apparatus (1) for producing an object (2) by means of additive manufacturing, comprising

    - a process chamber (3) for receiving a bath of material (4) which can be solidified by exposure to electromagnetic radiation;

    - a support (5) for positioning the object (2) in relation to the surface level (L) of the bath of material (4);

    - a solidifying device (7) for solidifying a selective layer-part of the material on the surface level (L) by means of electromagnetic radiation; and

    - a calibration system (8) having a sensor unit (81) that may be directed to the support (5), characterized in that the calibration system (8) is adapted and arranged for executing the method (301) according to any one of the preceding claims.


     
    13. Apparatus (1) according to claim 12, wherein the sensor unit (81) comprises an imaging device (81) that is arranged for obtaining an image of the first and second test marks.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Verfahren (301) zur Kalibrierung einer Vorrichtung (1) zum Erzeugen eines Objekts (2) mittels additiver Fertigung, wobei die Vorrichtung (1) umfasst:

    - eine Prozesskammer (3) zum Aufnehmen eines Materialbades (4), das verfestigt werden kann, indem es elektromagnetischer Strahlung ausgesetzt wird;

    - einen Träger (5) zum Positionieren des Objekts (2) in Bezug auf das Oberflächenniveau (L) des Materialbades (4); und

    - eine Verfestigungseinrichtung (7) zum Verfestigen eines selektiven Schichtteils des Materials auf dem Oberflächenniveau (L) mittels elektromagnetischer Strahlung;

    wobei das Verfahren (301) dadurch gekennzeichnet ist, dass es die folgenden Schritte umfasst:

    - Steuern (303) der Verfestigungseinrichtung (7) zum Herstellen einer ersten Prüfmarke bei einer ersten Verzögerungseinstellung;

    - Bereitstellen eines Kalibriersystems (8) mit einer Sensoreinheit (81), die auf den Träger (5) gerichtet werden kann;

    - Steuern der Verfestigungseinrichtung zum Herstellen einer Bezugsmarke (101, 102, 201, 202);

    - Steuern (305) der Verfestigungseinrichtung (7) zum Herstellen einer zweiten Prüfmarke bei einer von der ersten Verzögerungseinstellung verschiedenen zweiten Verzögerungseinstellung;

    - Bestimmen einer Messung für die Position der ersten und der zweiten Prüfmarke (111, 112, 113, 121, 122, 123) mit der Sensoreinheit (81); und

    - Bestimmen (307) einer Verzögerungseinstellung mit dem Kalibriersystem (8) zumindest basierend auf der ersten Prüfmarke, der zweiten Prüfmarke und der Bezugsmarke (101, 102, 201, 202), wobei die Verzögerungseinstellung mindestens eine von Folgenden ist:

    - eine Verfestigungseinrichtung-Ein-Verzögerungseinstellung (SDon), die zum Verzögern eines Verfestigungseinrichtung-Ein-Befehls für die Verfestigungseinrichtung (7) zum Verzögern des Starts der Emission der von Verfestigungseinrichtung (7) emittierten elektromagnetischer Strahlung ausgelegt ist;

    - eine Verfestigungseinrichtung-Aus-Verzögerungseinstellung (SDoff), die zum Verzögern eines Verfestigungseinrichtung-Aus-Befehls für die Verfestigungseinrichtung (7) zum Verzögern des Stopps der Emission der von der Verfestigungseinrichtung (7) emittierten elektromagnetischen Strahlung ausgelegt ist;

    - eine Sprungverzögerungseinstellung (JD), die zum Verzögern des Verfestigungseinrichtung-Ein-Befehls für die Verfestigungseinrichtung (7) zum Verzögern des Starts der Emission der von der Verfestigungseinrichtung (7) emittierten elektromagnetischer Strahlung ausgelegt ist, wobei die Sprungverzögerungseinstellung (JD) eine Zeit zum Auslösen einer Deflektoreinheit (74) zum Umlenken der elektromagnetischen Strahlung entlang des Oberflächenniveaus (L) zu einer vorbestimmten Position, vorzugsweise zu einer vorbestimmten Startposition, ist;

    - eine Markierungsverzögerungseinstellung (MD), die zum Verzögern eines Bewegungsstoppbefehls für die Deflektoreinheit (74) zum Umlenken der von der Verfestigungseinrichtung (7) emittierten elektromagnetischen Strahlung entlang des Oberflächenniveaus (L) ausgelegt ist;

    wobei der Schritt des Bestimmens (307) einer Verzögerungseinstellung ein Bestimmen eines Abstands zwischen der Bezugsmarke (101, 102, 201, 202) und der ersten bzw. der zweiten Prüfmarke (111, 112, 113, 121, 122, 123) umfasst.


     
    2. Verfahren (301) nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Bezugsmarke (101, 102, 201, 202) eine Linie ist, und wobei die erste und die zweite Prüfmarke (111, 112, 113, 121, 122, 123) Linien mit einer orthogonalen Komponente in Bezug auf die Bezugsmarke (101, 102, 201, 202) sind, wobei die erste und die zweite Prüfmarke (111, 112, 113, 121, 122, 123) insbesondere im Wesentlichen orthogonal in Bezug auf die Bezugsmarke (101, 102, 201, 202) hergestellt werden.
     
    3. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Verzögerungseinstellung unter Verwendung einer Anpassungsfunktion, vorzugsweise unter Verwendung linearer Interpolation, bestimmt wird.
     
    4. Verfahren (301) nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei der Schritt des Bestimmens (307) ferner umfasst:

    - Bestimmen der Verzögerungseinstellung basierend auf einer Breite des ersten Prüfmarke und/oder der zweiten Prüfmarke und/oder einer Breitenänderung der ersten Prüfmarke und/oder der zweiten Prüfmarke entlang der ersten Prüfmarke und der zweiten Prüfmarke.


     
    5. Verfahren (301) nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Sensoreinheit (81) ein bildgebendes Gerät (81) umfasst, wobei das bildgebende Gerät (81) zum Erhalten eines Bildes der Prüfmarken (111, 112, 113, 121, 122, 123) verwendet wird.
     
    6. Verfahren (301) nach Anspruch 5, wobei das bildgebende Gerät (81) derart ausgelegt ist, dass ein optischer Pfad (71) des bildgebenden Geräts (81) bei Verwendung der Vorrichtung (1) wenigstens teilweise mit einem optischen Pfad (71) der elektromagnetischen Strahlung der Verfestigungseinrichtung (7) zusammenfällt.
     
    7. Verfahren (301) nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei während der Schritte des Steuerns (303, 305) ein Strahl der von der Verfestigungseinrichtung (7) emittierten elektromagnetischen Strahlung in einer ersten Richtung (A) bewegt wird, wobei das Verfahren (301) ferner die Schritte des Wiederholens der Schritte des Steuerns (303, 305) und Bestimmens (307) umfasst, wobei während der wiederholten Schritte des Steuerns (303, 305) der Verfestigungseinrichtung (7) der Strahl der von der Verfestigungseinrichtung (7) emittierten elektromagnetischen Strahlung (7) in einer zweiten Richtung (B) bewegt wird, wobei die zweite Richtung (B) sich von der ersten Richtung (A) zum Bestimmen der Verzögerungseinstellung in der ersten Richtung (A) und in der zweiten Richtung (B) unterscheidet.
     
    8. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1,
    wobei der Abstand eine erste Abstandskomponente und eine zweite Abstandskomponente umfasst, wobei die zweite Abstandskomponente in einer Arbeitsebene einen Winkel mit der ersten Abstandskomponente einschließt, wobei eine Verzögerungseinstellung in einer ersten Richtung auf der ersten Anstandskomponente basiert, und eine Verzögerungseinstellung in einer zweiten Richtung auf der zweiten Abstandskomponente basiert.
     
    9. Verfahren nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei während der Schritte des Steuerns ein Strahl der von der Verfestigungseinrichtung emittierten elektromagnetischen Strahlung mit einer ersten Geschwindigkeit bewegt wird, wobei das Verfahren ferner die Schritte des Wiederholens der Schritte des Steuerns und Bestimmens umfasst, wobei während der wiederholten Schritte des Steuerns der Verfestigungseinrichtung der Strahl der von der Verfestigungseinrichtung emittierten elektromagnetischen Strahlung mit einer zweiten Geschwindigkeit bewegt wird, wobei während des Bestimmungsschritts die die Verzögerungseinstellung für die erste und die zweite Geschwindigkeit bestimmt wird.
     
    10. Verfahren (301) nach Anspruch 1, wobei während der Schritte des Steuerns (303, 305) sowohl die erste Verzögerungseinstellung als auch die zweite Verzögerungseinstellung eine der Verfestigungseinrichtung-Ein-Verzögerungseinstellung (SDon), der Verfestigungseinrichtung-Aus-Verzögerungseinstellung (SDoff), der Sprungverzögerungseinstellung (JD) oder der Markierungsverzögerungseinstellung (MD) sind, wobei das Verfahren (301) ferner die folgenden Schritte umfasst:

    - weiteres Steuern (311) der Verfestigungseinrichtung (7) zum Herstellen einer weiteren ersten Prüfmarke bei einer weiteren ersten Verzögerungseinstellung;

    - weiteres Steuern (313) der Verfestigungseinrichtung (7) zum Herstellen einer weiteren zweiten Prüfmarke bei einer von der weiteren ersten Verzögerungseinstellung verschiedenen weiteren zweiten Verzögerungseinstellung; und

    - weiteres Bestimmen (315) einer weiteren Verzögerungseinstellung basierend auf der weiteren ersten Prüfmarke und der weiteren zweiten Prüfmarke;

    wobei während der Schritte des weiteren Steuerns (311, 313) sowohl die weitere erste Verzögerungseinstellung als auch die weitere zweite Verzögerungseinstellung eine andere der Verfestigungseinrichtung-Ein-Verzögerungseinstellung (SDon), der Verfestigungseinrichtung-Aus-Verzögerungseinstellung (SDoff), der Sprungverzögerungseinstellung (JD) oder der Markierungsverzögerungseinstellung (MD) sind.
     
    11. Verfahren nach Anspruch 10, wobei das Verfahren ferner den folgenden Schritt umfasst:

    Einstellen (309) der während des Bestimmungsschritts bestimmten Verzögerungseinstellung auf die Verzögerungseinstellung;

    wobei der Schritt des Einstellens vor dem Ausführen der Schritte des weiteren Steuerns ausgeführt wird.


     
    12. Vorrichtung (1) zum Erzeugen eines Objekts (2) mittels additiver Fertigung, umfassend:

    - eine Prozesskammer (3) zum Aufnehmen eines Materialbades (4), das verfestigt werden kann, indem des elektromagnetischer Strahlung ausgesetzt wird;

    - einen Träger (5) zum Positionieren des Objekts (2) in Bezug auf ein Oberflächenniveau (L) des Materialbades (4);

    - eine Verfestigungseinrichtung (7) zum Verfestigen eines selektiven Schichtteils des Materials auf dem Oberflächenniveau (L) mittels elektromagnetischer Strahlung; und

    - ein Kalibriersystem (8) mit einer Sensoreinheit (81), die auf den Träger (5) gerichtet werden kann, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass das Kalibriersystem (8) zum Ausführen des Verfahrens (301) nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche geeignet und ausgelegt ist.


     
    13. Vorrichtung (1) nach Anspruch 12, wobei die Sensoreinheit (81) ein bildgebendes Gerät (81) umfasst, wobei das bildgebende Gerät (81) zum Erhalten eines Bildes der ersten und der zweiten Prüfmarke ausgelegt ist.
     


    Revendications

    1. Procédé (301) pour étalonner un appareil (1) pour produire un objet (2) par fabrication additive, dans lequel ledit appareil (1) comprend :

    - une chambre de traitement (3) pour recevoir un bain de matériau (4) qui peut être solidifié par exposition à un rayonnement électromagnétique ;

    - un support (5) pour positionner l'objet (2) par rapport au niveau de surface (L) du bain de matériau (4) ; et

    - un dispositif de solidification (7) pour solidifier une couche sélective, partie du matériau sur le niveau de surface (L) par un rayonnement électromagnétique ;

    ledit procédé (301) étant caractérisé en ce qu'il comprend les étapes consistant à :

    - commander (303) le dispositif de solidification (7) pour réaliser une première marque de test à un premier réglage de retard ;

    - munir un système d'étalonnage (8) d'une unité de détection (81) qui peut être dirigée vers ledit support (5) ;

    - commander le dispositif de solidification pour réaliser une marque de référence (101, 102, 201, 202) ;

    - commander (305) le dispositif de solidification (7) pour réaliser une deuxième marque de test à un deuxième réglage de retard différent du premier réglage de retard ;

    - déterminer, avec l'unité de détection (81), une mesure pour la position des première et deuxième marques de test (111, 112, 113, 121, 122, 123) ; et

    - déterminer (307), avec le système d'étalonnage (8), un réglage de retard sur la base d'au moins ladite première marque de test, ladite deuxième marque de test et ladite marque de référence (101, 102, 201, 202), dans lequel ledit réglage de retard est au moins l'un :

    - d'un réglage de retard d'activation de dispositif de solidification (SDon) agencé pour retarder une instruction d'activation de dispositif de solidification audit dispositif de solidification (7) pour retarder le début de l'émission de rayonnement électromagnétique, émis par ledit dispositif de solidification (7) ;

    - d'un réglage de retard de désactivation de dispositif de solidification (DDoff) agencé pour retarder une instruction de désactivation de dispositif de solidification audit dispositif de solidification (7) pour retarder l'arrêt de l'émission de rayonnement électromagnétique, émis par ledit dispositif de solidification (7) ;

    - d'un réglage de retard de saut (JD) agencé pour retarder ladite instruction d'activation de dispositif de solidification audit dispositif de solidification (7) pour retarder le début de l'émission de rayonnement électromagnétique, émis par ledit dispositif de solidification (7), dans lequel ledit réglage de retard de saut (JD) indique un temps d'actionnement d'une unité de déviation (74) pour dévier ledit rayonnement électromagnétique le long dudit niveau de surface (L) à une position prédéterminée, de préférence à une position de début prédéterminée ;

    - d'un réglage de retard de marque (MD) agencé pour retarder un arrêt d'instruction de mouvement à ladite unité de déviation (74) pour dévier ledit rayonnement électromagnétique, émis par ledit dispositif de solidification (7), le long dudit niveau de surface (L) ;

    dans lequel l'étape de détermination (307) d'un réglage de retard comprend la détermination d'une distance entre la marque de référence (101, 102, 201, 202) et les première et deuxième marques de test respectives (111, 112, 113, 121, 122, 123).


     
    2. Procédé (301) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel ladite marque de référence (101, 102, 201, 202) est une ligne, et dans lequel lesdites première et deuxième marques de test (111, 112, 113, 121, 122, 123) sont des lignes ayant une composante orthogonale par rapport à ladite marque de référence (101, 102, 201, 202), en particulier dans lequel lesdites première et deuxième marques de test (111, 112, 113, 121, 122, 123) sont rendues sensiblement orthogonales par rapport à ladite marque de référence (101, 102, 201, 202).
     
    3. Procédé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le réglage de retard est déterminé en utilisant une fonction d'ajustement, de préférence en utilisant une interpolation linéaire.
     
    4. Procédé (301) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel l'étape de détermination (307) comprend en outre :

    - la détermination dudit réglage de retard, sur la base d'une largeur de ladite première marque de test et/ou de ladite deuxième marque de test et/ou d'une variation de largeur de ladite première marque de test et/ou de ladite deuxième marque de test le long de ladite première marque de test et de ladite deuxième marque de test.


     
    5. Procédé (301) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel l'unité de détection (81) comprend un dispositif d'imagerie (81), dans lequel ledit dispositif d'imagerie (81) est utilisé pour obtenir une image des marques de test (111, 112, 113, 121, 122, 123).
     
    6. Procédé (301) selon la revendication 5, dans lequel le dispositif d'imagerie (81) est agencé de manière à ce qu'un chemin optique (71) du dispositif d'imagerie (81), lors de l'utilisation de l'appareil (1), coïncide au moins en partie avec un chemin optique (71) du rayonnement électromagnétique du dispositif de solidification (7).
     
    7. Procédé (301) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel, pendant lesdites étapes de commande (303, 305), un faisceau dudit rayonnement électromagnétique, émis par ledit dispositif de solidification (7), se déplace dans une première direction (A), ledit procédé (301) comprenant en outre les étapes de répétition desdites étapes de commande (303, 305) et de détermination (307), dans lequel, pendant lesdites étapes répétées de commande (303, 305) dudit dispositif de solidification (7), ledit faisceau dudit rayonnement électromagnétique, émis par ledit dispositif de solidification (7), se déplace dans une deuxième direction (B), dans lequel ladite deuxième direction (B) diffère de ladite première direction (A) pour déterminer ledit réglage de retard dans ladite première direction (A) et dans ladite deuxième direction (B).
     
    8. Procédé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel ladite distance comprend une première composante de distance et une deuxième composante de distance, dans lequel ladite deuxième composante de distance, dans un plan de travail, forme un angle avec ladite première composante de distance, dans lequel un réglage de retard dans une première direction est basé sur ladite première composante de distance et un réglage de retard dans une deuxième direction est basé sur ladite deuxième composante de distance.
     
    9. Procédé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel, pendant lesdites étapes de commande, un faisceau dudit rayonnement électromagnétique, émis par ledit dispositif de solidification, se déplace à une première vitesse, ledit procédé comprenant en outre les étapes de répétition desdites étapes de commande et de détermination, dans lequel, pendant lesdites étapes répétées de commande dudit dispositif de solidification, ledit faisceau dudit rayonnement électromagnétique, émis par ledit dispositif de solidification, se déplace à une deuxième vitesse, dans lequel, pendant ladite étape de détermination, ledit réglage de retard est déterminé pour lesdites première et deuxième vitesses.
     
    10. Procédé (301) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel, pendant lesdites étapes de commande (303, 305), ledit premier réglage de retard et ledit deuxième réglage de retard représentent tous deux l'un dudit réglage de retard d'activation de dispositif de solidification (SDon), dudit réglage de retard de désactivation de dispositif de solidification (SDoff), dudit réglage de retard de saut (JD) ou dudit réglage de retard de marque (MD), ledit procédé (301) comprenant en outre les étapes :

    - de commande supplémentaire (311) dudit dispositif de solidification (7) pour réaliser une première marque de test supplémentaire à un premier réglage de retard supplémentaire ;

    - de commande supplémentaire (313) du dispositif de solidification (7) pour réaliser une deuxième marque de test supplémentaire à un deuxième réglage de retard supplémentaire différent du premier réglage de retard supplémentaire ; et

    - de détermination supplémentaire (315) d'un réglage de retard supplémentaire sur la base d'au moins ladite première marque de test supplémentaire et ladite deuxième marque de test supplémentaire ;

    dans lequel, pendant lesdites étapes de commande supplémentaire (311, 313), ledit premier réglage de retard supplémentaire et ledit deuxième réglage de retard supplémentaire représentent tous deux un autre dudit réglage de retard d'activation de dispositif de solidification (SDon), dudit réglage de retard de désactivation de dispositif de solidification (SDoff), dudit réglage de retard de saut (JD) ou dudit réglage de retard de marque (MD).
     
    11. Procédé selon la revendication 10, dans lequel ledit procédé comprend en outre l'étape :

    - de réglage (309) dudit réglage de retard, déterminé pendant ladite étape de détermination, audit réglage de retard ;

    dans lequel ladite étape de réglage est effectuée avant d'effectuer lesdites étapes de commande supplémentaire.
     
    12. Appareil (1) pour produire un objet (2) par fabrication additive, comprenant

    - une chambre de traitement (3) pour recevoir un bain de matériau (4) qui peut être solidifié par exposition à un rayonnement électromagnétique ;

    - un support (5) pour positionner l'objet (2) par rapport au niveau de surface (L) du bain de matériau (4) ;

    - un dispositif de solidification (7) pour solidifier une partie de couche sélective du matériau sur le niveau de surface (L) par un rayonnement électromagnétique ; et

    - un système d'étalonnage (8) ayant une unité de détection (81) qui peut être dirigée vers le support (5), caractérisé en ce que le système d'étalonnage (8) est adapté et agencé pour exécuter le procédé (301) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes.


     
    13. Appareil (1) selon la revendication 12, dans lequel l'unité de détection (81) comprend un dispositif d'imagerie (81) qui est agencé pour obtenir une image des première et deuxième marques de test.
     




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    Cited references

    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description