Optomec, which makes additive manufacturing (AM) systems for 3D printed metals and 3D printed electronics, says that the results of a three-year study have validated the repeatability and transferability of its LENS metal additive manufacturing process.

The study was performed on different LENS metal additive manufacturing systems at different locations using the same processing parameters and the printing results from each LENS system were consistent and repeatable, exhibiting tensile and fatigue properties equal to or better than wrought Titanium Ti-6-4 material, Optomec says.

The ability to achieve repeatable machine to machine high quality printing results addresses current challenges faced by the U.S. Air Force, and provides a framework for the future adoption of metal additive manufacturing for repair and remanufacturing throughout the aircraft industry.

The study, sponsored by AM institute America Makes, included participation by industry leaders GE Aviation, Lockheed Martin, United Technologies Research Center and Rolls-Royce, as well as a group of technical experts serving as lead contributors, including Edison Welding Institute (EWI), Connecticut Center of Advanced Technology (CCAT), University of Connecticut, TechSolve, The Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Lab (ARL) and Concurrent Technologies Corporation. The scope of the study evaluated over 200 process elements and corresponding results spanning the metal additive manufacturing process, from powder optimization, process development, process monitoring and controls, part measurement, non-destructive testing and post processing. According to Optomec, it demonstrated the benefits of LENS powder-fed directed energy deposition technology over traditional welding techniques for the repair and remanufacturing of aerospace components.

Capability enhancement

‘This effort has set a foundation the industry can build on to implement LENS processing for sustainment, as well as new production,’ said Henry Phelps, senior staff engineer at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. ‘It established a set of feedstock requirements and build parameters for aerospace component repairs, as well as identifying areas for future capability enhancement.’

‘This study is significant in that it reinforces the LENS additive manufacturing process as a viable alternative to conventional repair and remanufacturing methods,’ added Tom McDonald, Optomec program manager for the project. ‘This development sets the stage to significantly reduce the cost and cycle time of returning critical aerospace assets into service to support military and commercial applications.’

This story is reprinted from material from Optomecwith editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.