Optomec, a leading global supplier of production grade additive manufacturing systems for 3D printed metals and 3D printed electronics, today announced the results of a three-year landmark study that validated the repeatability and transferability of the Optomec LENS metal additive manufacturing process. Leading Aerospace OEMS and technical experts participated in the study which was performed on different LENS metal additive manufacturing systems at different locations. Using the same processing parameters, 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. The ability to achieve repeatable machine to machine high quality printing results addresses current challenges faced by the US Air Force and provides a framework for the future adoption of metal additive manufacturing for repair and remanufacturing throughout the aircraft industry.
This landmark study, sponsored by America Makes, included participation by industry leaders GE Aviation, Lockheed Martin, United Technologies Research Center, 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 entire metal additive manufacturing process from powder optimization, process development, process monitoring and controls, part measurement, non-destructive testing, and post processing. This additive manufacturing study demonstrated the benefits of LENS powder-fed directed energy deposition technology over traditional welding techniques for the repair and remanufacturing of critical high-value aerospace components required to cost effectively sustain assets.
“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.”
“We were very pleased to be part of Optomec’s cross-cutting project team to advance the state of the art in LENS technology for repair applications,” said Dr. Tom Maloney, Chief Technology Officer at CCAT. “Working particularly closely with UTRC and UConn on one of the tasks, a firm understanding of the impact of LENS processing parameters for repair work has been established and can serve as a platform upon which to build for the future.”
“This study is significant in that it reinforces the LENS additive manufacturing process as a viable alternative to conventional repair and remanufacturing methods”, said 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. I want to thank all project participants for their diligence and contributions to this study”.