We are addressing some of the fundamental issues with powder bed techniques by combining process technology with powder characterisation to help meet the demands of production.

Powder bed, or laser melting, processes have developed quickly from their origins in rapid prototyping. However the processes are not understood and refined enough for some production environments. For example, end users can lack confidence in the repeatability of metal additive techniques due to batch-to-batch variations in metal powders and variations in build location, orientation and positioning. 

Research areas

  • Investigation of in-batch and batch-to-batch variations in build quality of additively manufactured metal components 
  • Identification of key powder characteristics for powder bed additive manufacturing

Capability

  • Renishaw AM250 Direct Metal Laser Sintering machine with 200W laser and build rates up to 20 cm³/hr, capable of processing multiple materials

Blown Powder Technique

One of the main advantages of the blown powder technique, or direct laser deposition, is the ability to build directly on to an existing component. Applications include adding bosses and protrusions to simplified forgings and castings to reduce machining time and material waste. The other main application is in the repair of high values components that have been subject to damage. This is particularly attractive to the gas turbine sector where high value blades and blisks are regularly damaged and repair is a viable economic alternative to scrapping and replacing.

Research areas

  • In-batch and batch-to-batch variations in build quality of metal components 
  • Key powder characteristics for blown powder additive manufacturing
  • Optimisation of machine parameters for blown powder additive manufacturing
  • Effects of substrate surface roughness, powder characteristics and machine parameters, with respect to the quality and cost in blown powder repair of components

Capability

  • Optomec LENS MR-7 blown powder metal additive machine, with thermal imager and melt pool sensor to allow in-process monitoring and control

For more information, please contact:

Dr James Hughes, Director, The National Metals Technology Centre (NAMTEC)

j.hughes@namtec.co.uk