Doncaster-based Laser Additive Solutions, a relatively new company which provides advanced laser based Additive Manufacturing (AM) services across the whole breadth of engineering sectors, has taken delivery of a TRUMPF 2kW TruDisk laser with fully integrated BEO 70 LMD processing head to help it complete a plethora of laser metal deposition (LMD) projects.
The tasks completed by Laser Additive Solutions range from straightforward job-shop laser cladding through to comprehensive R&D programmes. Founded in early 2015, Peter Brown, the owner, has invested heavily in the latest LMD and ancillary technology to provide a highly capable and flexible AM solution configured in a special processing cell.
The new technology includes a TRUMPF 2kW TruDisk laser with integrated BEO 70 LMD processing head and a REIS RL80 six-axis gantry manipulation system.
‘I was familiar with TRUMPF technology from previous roles,’ says Managing Director Peter Brown. ‘As a result, I had confidence in the equipment – it’s a reliable, turnkey solution, while the general application support and co-operation with TRUMPF for process development was also an important factor in the purchase decision.’
Continues Mr Brown: ‘We particularly like the zoom optics on the TRUMPF machine, which means the spot size changes automatically at the flick of a switch, from a small spot for intricate parts up to a 3mm diameter spot for heavy duty cladding. Furthermore, although we have 2kW at our disposal, if we require 60W steady output for a particularly delicate job, the machine delivers with complete reliability.’
LMD involves the use of a highly accurate and perfectly controlled laser beam that forms a melt pool on a metallic substrate into which powder is fed. Manipulated by a CNC driven gantry, the process can be used for component life extension purposes where typically an 'overlay' approach is utilised to prevent corrosion or wear for instance, or to build near-net shapes as an alternative to wasteful conventional subtractive machining such as milling, turning and grinding.
The TRUMPF 2kW TruDisk laser offers a minimum deposit wall thickness of 0.5mm; high stability over the full power range (60 – 2000W); and recorded LMD process-monitoring for quality assurance purposes. The solution was supplied with TRUMPF’s DepositionLine technology package for powder deposition welding. The process is simple: users first program the path of the laser optics, which follows the surface of the component, before powdered material is guided through the nozzle, step by step. Once the new material has cooled, operators weld the next layer, or start the refinishing process. Up to 3kg of filler material can be applied to a workpiece every hour.
When the process is controlled correctly, a wide range of titanium, nickel, cobalt, tungsten and steel alloys can be deposited, including Ti-Al6-4V, Inconel 718 and Stellite-6. The process inputs the minimal heat required to achieve successful fusion of the powdered material, resulting in a fine grained microstructure.
LMD can be used to provide protective coatings to expensive parts, such as turbine blades, valves or pistons, or give inexpensive components a high-grade, wear-resistant surface.
‘TRUMPF has the best name and reputation in this specific market sector, and the machine has already created several opportunities since it was installed in June 2015,’ concludes Mr Brown. ‘We are one of only three companies in the UK operating in this arena and the TRUMPF machine provides clear market differentiation.’