Background to the Project
Additive layered manufacturing (ALM), also known as rapid manufacturing, e-manufacturing and solid freeform fabrication, is the direct production of finished goods using additive fabrication techniques with high accuracy and detail resolution. Highly efficient Yb-fibre layer is commonly used in the ALM systems. Laser ALM techniques fuse metal, polymer or ceramic powder layer-by-layer to enable the creation of high value parts. Currently, laser ALM processes are small scale operations compared to other more conventional manufacturing processes.
In AVLAM, commercially available metal powder is used to produce near 100% dense metal parts. The process locally melts metal powder into a solid part using a focussed laser beam that traces the layer geometry. Even highly complex geometries can be created from 3D CAD model, fully automatically, in just a few hours and without any tooling.
The wide range of size and complexitiy possibilities will see mass uptake in sectors such as aero engine manufacture and repair, medical devices, sports goods, oil and gas drilling components. In this project the main target applications will be small to medium size, low volume, high value parts for secondary load bearing aerospace structures, such as complex aero brackets and minor framework parts. The potential of hybrid build strutures expands the size and nature of the parts to be created. The potential for 'Parts Hospitals' in the field are being investigated by the US Military. Instead of carrying massive inventories of parts, CAD files can be downloaded for the parts to be built remotely without tooling, saving on time, space and increasing adaptability, allowing mission critical parts to be 'grown' in a matter of hours.