LAM 2015 focuses on additive manufacturing and the 3D printing revolution

Orlando, FL - For the first time in its seven-year history, LIA's Laser Additive Manufacturing Workshop (LAM; held in Orlando) drew nearly 200 attendees—about half of them first-time participants who got a real-world view of the profit potential and pitfalls of industrial 3D printing.

Featuring speakers from BMW, Siemens, GE Global Research, and the Fraunhofer institutes, LAM 2015 showcased how researchers, powder suppliers, laser manufacturers, job shops, and national initiatives are cooperating to advance applications in various industries. From unique job shop successes to visions of printing human tissue, attendees were treated to a broad range of expert knowledge including state-of-the-art strategies to eliminate cracking, clad large parts, and build high-value components.

Keynote speaker Christoph Leyens of Fraunhofer IWS illustrated the potential material and cost savings of layer-by-layer, near-net shape manufacturing—for example, a potential reduction of up to $5364 (€5000) per part when producing a strongly twisted Ti64 leading edge for an aviation fan blade with additive manufacturing vs. conventional machining.

Meanwhile, BMW's Wolfgang Thiele demonstrated how the automaker uses additive processes to produce more than 100,000 parts a year for its consumer vehicles.

Furthermore, BMW has made more than 600 parts for its motor sports division, using aluminum alloy and the ReaLizer 250 machine for a complex engine component requiring undercuts.

Highlighting cladding applications, president Wayne Penn of Platinum Sponsor Alabama Laser detailed a unique laser material deposition procedure to repair water wall panels, which are made up of multiple boiler tubes welded together and ranging from 10 to 40 ft. long and up to 5 ft. wide. Instead of moving the part to clad these undulating 3D surfaces with a fixed beam, the company developed a flying-optic system for which a patent is pending.

Forays into higher-speed multibeam additive manufacturing included Henner Schoeneborn of SLM Solutions discussing the company's Quad Laser Technology using four 400 to 700W fiber lasers. Max Schniedenharn of Fraunhofer ILT detailed a selective laser melting  approach using a line of five diode lasers that can be switched on and off as part geometries dictate.

(Source: Laser Institute of America)

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