Optomec advances aluminum Directed Power Deposition (DED) additive manufacturing

Aerosol Jet Printing (AJP) and Laser Engineered Web Shaping (LENS) firm Optomec has introduced an development within the functionality of its LENS Directed Power Deposition (DED) 3D printers. 

The event signifies that Optomec’s vary of steel 3D printers can now be used to deposit any aluminum alloy, together with these not too long ago developed with improved properties for additive manufacturing. This presents alternatives to broaden on the purposes of the know-how within the transportation and aerospace industries.

DED in Optomec's LENS technology as used in the InfraTrac study. Screengrab via Optmec on YouTubeOptomec DED based mostly LENS know-how, 3D printing onto a premade steel floor. Picture through Optomec

Updating LENS 3D printing know-how

The New Mexico-based firm has been repeatedly growing the capabilities of its LENS know-how, and in October 2019, Optomec launched its newest LENS deposition head, the LDH three.X, to optimize the DED course of.

An enhancement on its predecessor, the LDH three.X options improved channeling for water cooling the top, in addition to a fast join/disconnect nozzle system to interchange nozzle varieties relying on the applying. 

The LENS system was up to date final yr to 3D print in copper, and since sure copper-alloy formulations can be utilized to supply rocket elements, this unlocked potential aerospace purposes. Optomec has since introduced that LENS 3D printing know-how shall be used to supply bi-metallic rocket engine elements to help NASA’s mission to return to the moon in 2024

Optomec’s steel 3D printers are additionally used for upkeep and restore and overhaul (MRO) functions, and the corporate has been searching for to broaden the potential purposes of its LENS know-how on this space. In February final yr, a staff at Rochester Institute of Know-how (RIT) used Optomec’s LENS know-how to restore a damaged gear on a machine from the 1960s. As a result of Optomec’s steel 3D printing course of makes use of a powdered alloy feedstock, the know-how is ready to print instantly onto pre-made surfaces, and this allowed the staff to restore the half which might in any other case have develop into scrap steel.

As well as, the corporate launched an impartial research highlighting the advantages of utilizing automated laser cladding for gasoline turbine engine repairs. The research outlined how using the know-how has helped MRO service facilities and plane engine producers make sooner repairs whereas retaining excessive requirements.

Optomec advances aluminum Directed Power Deposition (DED) additive manufacturingAn aluminum alloy block deposited with LENS DED (left) and an optical micrograph of a sophisticated and unetched pattern from the identical block (proper). Picture through Optomec.

New purposes of the LENS DED system

Optomec’s LENS system makes use of a steel powdered feedstock that’s blown by a nozzle after which melted on contact with a laser array to supply 3D printed elements. The system’s simultaneous 5-axis system permits the manufacturing of aluminum alloy elements with advanced geometries, and with out the necessity for help constructions. 

Utilizing a managed ambiance glove-box with very low ranges of oxygen and moisture for the deposition of aluminum alloys, the 3D printer produces elements with improved mechanical properties. Its capabilities make it significantly appropriate for including new materials to pre-fabricated elements, and this has made it helpful for purposes in MRO.

The newest growth of Optomec’s steel 3D printing course of, permits for the restore of extra advanced aluminum alloy elements and a greater floor end, utilizing powder-based DED. This makes the system extra able to creating the intricate structural elements required within the transportation and aerospace industries. 

“Our engineers have developed course of parameters for aluminum alloys to offer a superb floor end, excessive deposition charges and a density of ~99.9%,” stated David Otazu, LENS Purposes Engineer at Optomec. 

DED know-how within the 3D printing business 

A number of corporations have developed their very own DED applied sciences, together with 3D printer producer Additec. The corporate, based mostly in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Bremen, Germany, has launched its first desktop steel 3D printer. Utilizing Laser Metallic Deposition (LMD), a variation of DED know-how, the μPrinter is able to depositing wire and powder feedstock into advanced geometries. 

Aerospace additive manufacturing firm Norsk Titanium and world requirements physique SAE Worldwide launched the first technical specs for his or her DED-made elements. Utilizing its variant of DED Speedy Plasma Deposition (RPD) know-how, Norsk Titanium constructed Boeing’s first structurally supportive 3D printed part – an higher spar half for the 787 Dreamliner. 

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Machine Instruments (MHIMT), a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI), introduced the commercialization of its steel 3D printer in April 2019, that includes its LAMDA DED 3D printing know-how. Whereas Mitsubishi thought of the primary model of its machine to be entry-level, the corporate is engaged on an additional two variations of the machine, the LAMDA 500 and LAMDA 2000, with bigger construct areas. 

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Featured picture exhibits Optomec’s LENS DED system printing aluminum powder onto an aluminum substrate. Picture through Optomec. 

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