Orlando, FL - Record attendance and spirited discussion from beginning to end marked the most successful Laser Additive Manufacturing (LAM) Workshop to date. Marking its sixth year, the workshop spotlighted promising developments in additive manufacturing research, materials, and processes, as well as previewed progress on the horizon.
Related: Laser additive manufacturing to be presented in Houston
Organized into two educational tracks, showcasing powder-bed processes on March 12th and powder-fed technology on March 13th, the workshop offered several case studies and highlights from around the world. More than 200 attendees traveled to Houston, TX, from more than a dozen countries, drawn not only by a wide-ranging slate of presentations but also the opportunity to talk directly with suppliers of additive manufacturing solutions.
Attendees got a look at all angles of additive manufacturing performed with machines by Concept Laser, EOS, Phenix, ReaLizer, Renishaw, and SLM Solutions with materials like Inconel 625 and 718, titanium TiAl6V4, aluminum AlSi10Mg, stainless steel 316, maraging steel, cobalt chrome, etc. A 90-minute panel discussion on powder-bed processes at the end of the first day provided an opportunity to quiz 10 experts, who were then available to resume those discussions during the 90-minute exhibitor reception that followed.
Recurring themes of the workshop included:
- Key players worldwide are not shy about investing significant time and money toward expanding additive manufacturing capabilities in the automotive, aerospace, energy, medical, and consumer-goods sectors. A primary quest is for machines with larger build chambers to produce larger parts.
- There remains no "cookbook" for how to engage in additive manufacturing. But novel practices like crowdsourcing design ideas for additive manufacturing parts, or "printing" parts from customers' CAD data and shipping the results, demonstrate the evolving business practices that additive manufacturing is fostering.
- Process monitoring and control are vital to ensure that hours of production time aren't for naught because an error early in the layer-by-layer manufacturing process went undetected.
- Data—either too much or too little—remains a core challenge. On the one hand, generating gigabytes of additive manufacturing process data can impede the ability to zero in on vital manufacturing parameters. On the other hand, additive manufacturing users struggle without relevant databases; for instance, those that define the properties of metal powders or ensure repeatable parts and products.
To view some of the presentations given at LAM 2014, visit http://www.lia.org/lam.