Currently used materials in Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) processes are alloys, designed for conventional manufacturing processes. However, this does not allow the advantages of the unique properties of the LPBF process to be fully exploited. New alloys need therefore be developed under LPBF conditions, which currently requires multiple costly and time consuming manufacturing cycles of powder material.
To meet these challenges, scientists from Fraunhofer ILT have developed the miniaturized and modular process chamber “PETIT”. It allows the processing of material samples with significantly reduced powder material with less than 40 cl, making rapid alloy development feasible. By integrating PETIT into existing LPBF systems to use their optical and laser systems, a fast screening of different alloy compositions with high transferability to industrial scale processes is possible.
Since 2012, our experts have been working on the Extreme High-speed Laser Material Deposition EHLA. This fast and reliable process applies 50 to 350 micrometer thin metal layers at a speed of up to 500 meters per minute in a resource-friendly and economical manner; in many different applications it has already proven to be a good alternative to hard chromium plating.
The video shows how homogeneously a metal coating can be applied with the EHLA process – for example on a brake disc.
The EHLA process is a joint development of Fraunhofer ILT and the Chair for Digital Additive Production DAP at RWTH Aachen University.
High-power diode lasers exhibit interesting properties for use in Additive Manufacturing. However, due to their comparably low beam quality, diode lasers are challenging to integrate into conventional scanner-based LPBF machines. As part of the Fraunhofer lighthouse project “futureAM” a LPBF machine setup combining an industrial high-power diode lasers, a galvanometer scanner and a custom f-theta lens was developed and validated for the processing of stainless steel (AISI 316L). This approach yields comparable part properties and machine productivity as conventional fibre laser based LPBF-Systems.
Complex metal components can be produced flexibly and cost-efficiently with the additive wire laser material deposition (wire LMD). Scientists from Fraunhofer ILT have developed a new processing head for coaxial wire LMD that allows almost 100 percent utilization of the feed material. The process provides not only cost savings but is also dust-free and offers a higher environmental and machine user protection compared to powder-based processes. The video shows the functional principle of the new optics and its use in wire LMD.
The lighthouse project Go Beyond 4.0 pursues the objective to provide new technologies for the mass production of individualized products. Specifically, this means the integration of digital printing and laser technologies into industry 4.0 production environments which are currently installed.
To meet these objectives, excellent expertises of six leading Fraunhofer Institutes are teamed up. The team consists of Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano Systems ENAS in Chemnitz (project leader), Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Bremen, Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena, Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC in Würzburg, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU in Dresden and Chemnitz, tapping on additional competences of several Fraunhofer Groups: Microelectronics, Production, MATERIALS and Light & Surfaces.
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