Multi-Beam Laser Additive Manufacturing (MB LAM) for Efficient Part Manufacture and Repair

NCMS Project #: 140480

Problem: Flexible and efficient turn-key rapid production systems are being examined that are critical for use in DoD depots and engineering centers to address Warfighter and Weapons Systems requirements for replacement parts.  Parts availability is being severely impacted by several factors: 1) by a shrinking industrial base (diminishing sources of supply), 2) by aging DoD weapon systems needs for com­ponents that are no longer in production, 3) low volume requirements, 4) and by the lack of capable artisans and tradesmen resulting from workforce aging.

Benefit: The MB LAM system offers a substantial reduction in turnaround time to produce replacement parts for the warfighter.  Shortening the return to service of most military parts is critical to keeping all defense systems fully opera­tional at all times.  These repairs will also allow for lower inventory and handling costs.

Precise control of the heat cycle during material deposition will allow processing a wide spectrum of high-strength steels and super alloys used in jet engines and gas turbines and will also be advantageous for the deposition of gradient materials.

Solution/Approach: The project team will design, assemble and test a robotic based system that is capable of producing complex metal parts using a unique multi-beam laser additive manufacturing (MB LAM) technique.  The integrated MB-LAM system, sitting on a compact platform, can accom­modate a wide variety of different parts and can be easily transported.  It can thus be deployed at different depots and the modular design allows multiplication of systems for improved productivity.

Impact on Warfighter:

  • Modular design adaptive to targeted production rate.
  • Shortened implementation cycles maximizing return on investment.
  • Operator can be easily trained.

DoD Participation:

  • U.S. Navy (NUWC Keyport)
  • U.S. Air Force (OC-ALC)
  • U.S. Army (Anniston)

Industry Participation:

  • Fraunhofer, Center for Laser Technology
  • University of Michigan, College of Engineering
  • NCMS

Final Report