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Load balancing for multi-beam additive manufacturing systems

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Additive Manufacturing
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As powder bed fusion (PBF) additive manufacturing (AM) becomes a more mature field, system configurations are gradually moving away from the classic single heat source, layer-by-layer system configurations towards unconventional system configurations that offer higher throughput. Higher throughput systems allow PBF systems to be considered for a larger variety of industrial applications. However, the inclusion of multiple heat sources, or beams, also increases the complexity of the control schemes needed. For multi-beam systems with overlapping fields of view, the distribution of workload, or load balancing, across these beams directly affects the total print time for a build. Additionally, the probability of any beam failing in a multi-beam system increases with the number of beams. While manual methods of load balancing and dealing with beam failures are reasonable for current generation multi-beam systems, as system configurations become more complex, manual methods will become prohibitively inefficient. This paper introduces two different ways to load balance multi-beam systems of various configuration types, regardless of their complexity, which are highly performant. A consequence of this performance is the enablement of on-the-fly load balancing in the event a beam fails, thus improving system robustness.