Within a BMBF-funded project, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is tackling the issue of 3D printing large components economically by using a new process called Hybrid AM that combines conventional manufacturing with additive processes. An important step forward in this process development is a new wire LMD head and its modular components which the Aachen-based experts will be presenting for the first time at formnext from November 19 to 22, 2019 in Frankfurt am Main.

Production experts are increasingly facing a dilemma: Conventional manufacturing processes such as turning, milling, eroding or forming are gradually reaching their limits whenever large and complex, individual metal components need to be manufactured. While additive manufacturing processes offer significant advantages in terms of saving raw materials, they still only have low deposition rates. Here, it makes sense to combine conventional and additive manufacturing processes.

Integrating hybrid production technology into existing systems

As part of the collaborative ProLMD project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Fraunhofer ILT is working with industrial partners to develop new processes for integrating hybrid laser material deposition (LMD) processes into the production chain. Their aim is to develop processes and systems that can be used, for example, to apply reinforcements or other geometric features onto cast or forged blank parts via LMD.

Developed at Fraunhofer ILT and now implemented in the ProLMD project, the new processing optics – with a ring-shaped beam – play an important role in coaxial LMD with wire. “The main advantage of the optics is the directional independence. Combined with the low cost filler material wire and a nearly 100 percent utilization, the overall costs can be reduced drastically”, explains Max Fabian Steiner, a researcher at Fraunhofer ILT. ”In addition, the process is dust-free. Compared to powder-based processes, it, therefore, not only offers cost savings but also improves occupational safety as well as environmental and employee protection”.

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Source: “Wire laser material deposition – a smart way to save costs”, Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT

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