Laser Engineering Net Shaping Solutions (LENS) for Commercial and Defense Manufacturing Repair and Overhaul Applications – Phase I

NCMS Project #: 140209

Problem:

  • Aging weapon systems are increasing sustainment costs and cycle times and decreasing system availability.
  • Parts obsolescence for spare parts to support these platforms is one of the greatest challenges in maintaining operational readiness.
  • Factors complicating the process of replenishing spare parts:
    • Traditional sources of supply and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) for many of these components no longer exist or no longer wish to produce the part.
    • Demands for critical spares are often in very low quantities – creating very high unit costs.
    • Traditional repair processes cannot be performed on many parts because of unacceptable material properties, thermal distortion, or a lack of process control documentation.

Benefit:

  • Availability: Reduced cycle time greatly increases weapon system availability
  • Cost:
    • Torpedo Cylinder Barrels $90K/yr Torpedo
    • Aft fuel tanks repair corroded surfaces $500K/yr .
    • Submarine connector rods build up connector rod surfaces $110K/yr.
    • Compressor crankshafts build up crankshaft surfaces $150K/yr.
    • Anniston saved approximately $6M the first year repairing various turbine components previously unreparable
  • Reliability: Improved accuracy of machined repair significantly increases reliability over parts typically repaired by hand
  • Cycle Time: Repair capability allows immediate return to service over traditional disposal

Solution/Approach:

  • Laser Engineered Net Shaping (LENS) direct metal deposition technology provides a solution to reduce repair costs and provide higher quality parts when compared to traditional repair methods.
  • High-powered laser beams focused onto a part where metallic powder is injected under computer guidance is used to build up three-dimensional layers, until the part repair is complete.
  • The LENS machine is used to build material up on the surface of an existing component, and is able to restore the original material that has been lost due to wear, mis-machining, impact or other damage.
  • LENS generates very little heat, keeping the Heat Affected Zone (HAZ) size to a minimum.
  • HAZ does not spread to critical areas, therefore LENS can repair parts once classified as non-repairable due to strength loss or distortion that is caused by heat from a conventional welding process.

DOD Participation:

  • U.S. Army (Anniston Army Depot)
  • U.S. Navy (NUWC Keyport and Fleet Readiness Center East)

Industry Participation:

  • Rolls Royce
  • Boeing Rocketdyne
  • Collins & Aikman
  • Optomec
  • NCMS