LENS MR-7 system to be used for next generation laser additive manufacturing

Optomec Inc. announced that Pennsylvania State University has purchased an Optomec LENS (Laser Engineered Net Shaping) system to advance research programs directed at decreasing manufacturing and lifecycle costs for a range of U.S. Navy and U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) systems. Optomec's LENS MR-7 system was selected because it is well suited for materials research, rapid alloy discovery, process development, and component-level prototype and repair.

The Applied Research Laboratory of the Pennsylvania State University (ARL-PSU) is actively engaged in many programs directed at the use of laser technology to decrease manufacturing and sustainability costs for various Navy platforms. One subset of these technologies, laser material deposition, has and will continue to impact the affordability of Navy systems through several applications, including value-added additive manufacturing and repair. The 2009 Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) provided funding to purchase the system, which will be housed and maintained by ARL's Laser Processing Division in a user friendly, safe environment accessible to faculty and students adjacent to an established shared ARL/University laser facility.

Shawn Kelly, Research Associate at Penn State explains that "The LENS MR-7 system offers the functionality, flexibility, and repeatability in a research-grade laser deposition system that the Applied Research Laboratory at The Penn State University requires in order to develop the next generation of laser additive manufacturing technologies for the U.S. Navy and other Industrial partners. Optomec has been more than willing to adapt the MR-7 system to provide a unique research tool that allows the Laser Processing Division to expand the capabilities of laser deposition technologies across length scales. The Division plans to showcase the MR-7 system at an open house in the late Fall 2009 timeframe."

LENS systems have been utilized in production worldwide, from Army repair depots to major aerospace manufacturers. The functionality of the MR-7 system, which includes dual powder feeders, closed-loop melt-pool control, non-contact thermal cameras for measuring temperature and cooling rate, inert processing chamber, specifically designed deposition heads, and a fiber laser make it an ideal system for materials research, rapid alloy discovery, process development, solidification and materials processing research. Furthermore, for the first time, single-mode fiber laser technology offered by IPG Photonics has been integrated into PSU's LENS MR-7 system, opening new avenues and capabilities for unique materials and laser processing research.

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