Additive Manufacturing

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"futureAM - Next Generation Additive Manufacturing”

The Fraunhofer Lighthouse project futureAM was launched in 2017 with the aim of accelerating the additive manufacturing (AM) of metal components by at least a factor of 10. Activities focused on a holistic view of digital and physical value creation from order entry to the finished metallic 3D printed component, and on the leap into a new technology generation of AM. The project partners defined the four fields of action for these goals: Industry 4.0 and digital process chain, scalable and robust AM processes, materials and system technology/automation. This video presents the project results.

The following Fraunhofer Institutes participated in this project: 

  • Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT, Aachen (project coordination)
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Additive Production Technologies IAPT, Hamburg
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Applied Materials Research IFAM, Bremen
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD, Darmstadt
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS, Dresden
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU, Chemnitz, Dresden

Further information:

Nano-Scale Duplex High Entropy Alloys produced by Additive Manufacturing

In the collaborative project NADEA, which is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF, project partners from research and industry have developed NADEAAM, a cobalt free high-entropy alloy designed for Laser Material Deposition (LMD). Its Widmanstätten microstructure makes it a veritable duplex material particularly suited for operation in corrosive environments where high strength and wear resistance are required. 

 

Hybrid Additive Manufacturing Using LMD

A promising concept for a resource- and cost-efficient production of the future is the combination of conventional and additive manufacturing processes. Due to its geometric flexibility and its wide range of usable materials, Laser Material Deposition (LMD) is a suitable process for such hybrid additive manufacturing – for example for applications in aerospace or in tool and turbomachinery manufacturing.

EHLA: Coating fast and reliable with laser light

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.

ProLMD: Process and System Technology for Hybrid Additive Manufacturing of Large Components with LMD

The video shows an automated workflow consisting of part scanning, tool path generation for a component feature to be added, Laser Material Deposition (LMD), scanning of the deposited volume, and generation of adapted tool paths for the subsequent layers. This workflow, including software and hardware components, is the result of the BMBF-funded project ProLMD.

Hybrid AM (a combination of conventional and Additive Manufacturing processes) using LMD on robot-based systems offers significant technological and economical potential. ProLMD focuses on the development of processes as well as system and software solutions for this approach.

Industry partners: Airbus Defence and Space GmbH, BCT Steuerungs- und DV-Systeme GmbH, Daimler AG, KUKA Industries GmbH & Co. KG (department Lasertec; project lead), Laserline GmbH, M. Braun Inertgas-Systeme GmbH, and MTU Aero Engines AG.

 

Effective brake disc protection with EHLA

With "Extreme High-speed Laser Material Deposition EHLA", metal components can be coated economically and environmentally friendly. A cooperation in Aachen is further developing the additive process for the coating of brake discs for automobiles: Experts from HD – Special Optics for Laser Technology are improving the powder supply and scientists from Fraunhofer ILT are optimizing the process control. The video shows an EHLA coating process with the new HighNo powder nozzle from HD.

The EHLA process is a joint development of Fraunhofer ILT and the Chair for Digital Additive Production DAP at RWTH Aachen University. 

More information: http://hd-sonderoptiken.de/en/

Cost-efficient 3D printing with wire LMD

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.

Additive Manufacturing with Wire Laser Material Deposition

Laser-based additive manufacturing of a compressor blade contour. The Inconel 718 material is applied to the component by wire laser material deposition – the individual layers are dense, crack-free and of high quality. Even complex geometries can be produced additively in this way.

Extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition: A way out of the chromium ban

Components are protected against corrosion and wear through hard chrome plating, thermal spraying, laser material deposition or other deposition welding techniques. However, there are downsides to these processes – for example, as since September 2017, chromium(VI) coatings require authorization. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen as well as the RWTH Aachen University have developed an ultra-high-speed laser material deposition process, known by its German acronym EHLA, to eliminate these drawbacks. EHLA does not contain the environmentally harmful chromium(VI). With the developed process, components can be coated, repaired or additively manufactured in a particularly economical and environmentally friendly manner.  

Dr. Andres Gasser and Thomas Schopphoven from the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen and their colleague Gerhard Backes from the Chair for Digital Additive Production of the RWTH Aachen University have developed the EHLA process and were therfore honored with the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize 2017.

New CAM system for efficient laser material deposition

The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT has developed an offline programming system for laser material deposition. The LMD Cam3D program enables process developers and end‐users to generate tool paths quickly, even for complex LMD tasks that have non‐standard welding strategies. The generated paths are translated into machine code, and can be tested for possible collisions via a machine simulation. LMD Cam3D will be presented for the first time at the EuroMold from November 27 ‐ 30, 2012 in Frankfurt at the Fraunhofer joint booth, hall 11‐ C66a.

3D-component without support structures, manufactured with Laser Metal Deposition (LMD)

In this demonstration, laser cladding, also known as Laser Metal Deposition (LMD), is used to additively manufacture a three-dimensional part without support structures. Off-line programming is used to generate the program for the robot system at Fraunhofer ILT. Inconel 625, a nickel-based super-alloy, is used as additive material. This material is often used in the turbine and chemical sector. A continuous coaxial powder nozzle from Fraunhofer ILT is used. Total process time is 23 minutes. For further information please visit our website: http://www.ilt.fraunhofer.de/en/technology-focus/laser-material-processing/laser-metal-deposition.html#

Post Processing for Laser Powder Bed Fusion - Efficient Support Design and Removal

For a broad industrial application of the Laser Powder Bed Fusion technology, economical post processing is still a major challenge.

Especially, the design of support structures is in most cases only adapted to the LPBF process in order to enable a successful print job. In post processing, however, this causes high manual effort for powder as well as support removal and leads to unprofitable products.

Fraunhofer ILT has developed a new support design and patented removal method which is paving the path for the economical industrial application of Laser Powder Bed Fusion.

PETIT – Miniaturized Process Module for Alloy Development in LPBF

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.

Laser Powder Bed Fusion Using Diode Lasers

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.

LPBF at Elevated Temperatures

Most modern industrial LPBF (Laser Powder Bed Fusion) machines can use moderate temperatures (≤ 500°C) from base plate preheating to manufacture components made of e.g. aluminum with reduced distortion. Due to design of these preheating systems the attainable temperatures are limited and heavily depending on combination of geometry and material that should be manufactured.

Enhancements in LPBF preheating technologies developed at Fraunhofer ILT challenge these limitations and allow elevated process temperatures (500-1200°C) which are used to reduce distortion for a wider range of alloys (including titanium and nickel base alloys) and even enable the manufacturing of complex parts made of hard-to-weld materials like titanium aluminides.

Multi-Scanner On-the-fly Processing for Laser Powder Bed Fusion

In the scope of the Fraunhofer lighthouse project futureAM, scientists from Fraunhofer ILT have developed an enhanced processing strategy for Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF). A multi-scanner processing head with five laser-scanner-systems was integrated into Fraunhofer ILT’s prototype LPBF machine with a maximum build envelope of 1000 mm x 800 mm x 500 mm. In order to increase the system’s productivity, a synchronized movement of the galvanometer scanners and the linear axis system was realized enabling on-the-fly processing.

Scalable Machine Concept for Laser Powder Bed Fusion

In the strategic lighthouse project futureAM, the five Fraunhofer Institutes ILT, IFAM, IGD, IWS and IWU, as well as the Fraunhofer Research Institution IAPT, are systematically further developing metal additive manufacturing. Scientists from Fraunhofer ILT have now developed a scalable machine concept for the Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) of large metal components. A new mobile processing laser head is used in this system, which also offers a very large, effectively usable build volume (1,000 mm x 800 mm x 500 mm). Thus, productivity can be increased by a factor of 10 compared to conventional LPBF systems. The video shows excerpts from an AM process in the new system.

Laser Powder Bed Fusion of Copper Materials with Green Laser

At formnext 2018, the Fraunhofer ILT presented a new development for laser powder bed fusion of copper materials. Using the powder bed-based process and green laser radiation, components can be produced with additives that exhibit the special material properties of pure copper and, in particular, the same high conductivity as the starting material.

The Aachen scientists are also developing the corresponding plant technology and process control in this project, which is sponsored by the Arbeitsgemeinschaft industrieller Forschungsvereinigungen AiF "Otto von Guericke" e.V. and the Deutscher Verband für Schweißen und artverwandte Verfahren DVS e.V.

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