The vHub is used in additive manufacturing in pre- and post-processing for buffering or intermediate storage of metal powder. With a volume of 250 liters (~8.8 ft³), the integrated powder hopper provides plenty of storage capacity: for holding powder from an upstream process, and for reliably supplying powder to a downstream process. Should this volume be insufficient, up to four vHub 250 units can be coupled to form an integrated compound. Thus, buffers with 500L, 750L and 1,000 liters (~ 17.6, 26.4, 35.3 ft³) volume can be realized.
The integrated vacuum conveyor transports the metal powder from the feeding point, or the upstream equipment, into the vHub 250. In this way, for example, powder can be conveyed from a 3D printer, a powder reprocessing station (e.g. PowTReX) or from a container over a distance of up to 25 meters. Positioned in the direct vicinity of a 3D printer, the print job can also be manually unpacked by means of its hose and suction lance.
One area of application is the rapid emptying of even large build volumes in an uninterrupted process. This is made possible by the high conveying capacity (e.g. stainless steel powder up to 1,500 kg/h (3340 lbs/hr.) in combination with the large storage capacity. As a result the 3D printer quickly becomes available for new print jobs and the productivity of the plant is improved.
A closed powder loop in a multi-machine setup can be realized, for example, with a PowTReX and two vHub 250’s. The first vHub receives used powder from the connected 3D printers and buffers it. The powder is successively dispensed to a PowTReX, and the reprocessed powder is subsequently stored in the second vHub 250. From there, the 3D printers are supplied with metal powder.