Orlando, FL - If additive manufacturing is becoming the next big thing as some experts and companies believe, the Laser Institute of America's (LIA) fifth-annual Laser Additive Manufacturing Workshop helped pave the way by providing more information on the roadmap leading to an AM revolution.
Held in Houston in February, LAM 2013 featured more than 20 presentations covering everything from nuts-and-bolts cladding and repair to sky's-the-limit projections of the growing impact of additive processes.
LAM 2013 showcased new methods, new workflows, new facilities, and new possibilities in sessions spotlighting process chains, digital manufacturing, surface tailoring, powders, and an overview of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII), a pilot facility under the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation.
Workshop co-chair Jim Sears of GE Global Research Center noted that "as you find where [AM] fits, it's not a replacement technology; it's an additional technology that takes you to a new place. That's where design innovation will be a necessary asset. [AM is] just another thing in the box; you still have to post-process [a part], you have to be able to inspect it, you've got to be able to finish it. [AM] does give you some enabling capabilities, but you can't leave everything else behind."
Richard Martukanitz of Penn State's Center for Innovative Materials Processing explained that the facility now features an 8,000 square foot Additive Manufacturing Demonstration Facility that aggregates the university's AM and prototyping technology under one roof.
Ryan Dehoff of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory described a partnership with Carpenter Powder Products that has produced iron-based nanocomposite powders in industrial quantities of more than 12 tons to date -- to clad ship decks for skid resistance and the inside of nuclear fuel containers.
iPhone covers and jewelry
Christian Hinke, managing director of Fraunhofer ILT's just-launched photonic production research campus in Aachen, Germany, said the printing of consumer-uploaded designs for iPhone covers is an example. In a first, Nokia has released a 3D development kit to its customers so they can print custom covers for their Lumia 820 phones. EOS has even released a jewelry-specific laser-sintering machine, he said.
Ytterbium fiber laser cladding
Gerald Bruck of Siemens Power Generation shared results of a study of the effect of angle of beam incidence on ytterbium fiber laser cladding of alloy 625. They found that, with decreasing angle of beam incidence and constant power density, about 80 percent of melt width can be maintained without powder feeding.
In situ laser cladding repair
Ted Reutzel of the Applied Research Lab at Penn State University updated attendees on successes and lessons learned during the in situ laser cladding repair of naval vertical launch system tubes.
Dry underwater laser beam welding
Ryan Bucurel of Westinghouse detailed a dry underwater laser beam welding process that is intended for repairing spent-fuel pool liners or cracked Stellite 6 radial guide clevises in nuclear reactor vessels.
The 2D realm
While opportunities in advanced AM continue to bubble up, business in the 2D realm continues to be a benefit for the laser industry. "There are about as many different types of wear as there are different types of cancer," said Denney, who noted that Lincoln Electric took on laser technology within the past two years and purchased two laser systems integrators within the past year.
To stay in touch with the latest trends and cutting-edge applications in AM, plan to attend LAM 2014. Visit LIA's web site for updates on the location, dates and program. In the meantime, select presentations from LAM 2013 will be available online.
(Image via Shutterstock)